Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Troop Visit

Some of my friends may shoot me if they read this, but to the extent that there's any there there, the recent flap about Obama not visiting wounded soldiers during his stop in Germany is more the Obama campaign's fault, not the Pentagon's.

For thos unfamiliar with the story, the nickel version is that during his international tour Obama planned to visit a military hospital in Germany, where wounded Iraq vets are recovering, but the visit was cancelled rather abruptly and without good explanation at first. The McCain campaign pounced, and released an ad attacking Obama for not caring about the troops when there aren't cameras around. A pretty cheap shot, but effective among some groups, and really, why was the visit cancelled?

Well, it turns out that the Pentagon, like the rest of government, has strict rules about mixing campaign business with official business. They told Obama that he was more than welcome to visit the hospital, but that he could only be accompanied by official Senate staff, not presidential campaign staff. But they only told him this on Wednesday, after he'd already left the US with a planeful of campaign staff only.

The Obama campaign (and plenty of his more arduent supporters) are playing this up as the Pentagon's fault because the Pentagon didn't inform the campaign about the policy until after Obama'd already left the country, but that doesn't hold water. First, it should be the job of somebody on the campaign to make sure all the i's are dotted and t's are crossed and take care of details like this. That's what makes a good campaign. Second, the Pentagon told them on Wednesday. The visit was supposed to be on Friday. They couldn't find any Obama Senate staffer willing to fly over and meet his boss in Germany? Finally, there weren't any Senate staff along on this trip at all? Frankly, that's amazing, given that the trip is an official Senate delegation, Senators Hagel and Reed are also along on the trip, and Obama himself said that it's important to remember he's going as a Senator, not as a candidate. So what does he do? He brings dozens of campaign staff with him but not a single Senate staffer, for either him or his two colleagues?. Sheesh.

(The Pentagon's selective enforcement and timing not withstanding, I agree with this policy of official government staff only; wounded soldiers are not campaign props, and having people there whose only purpose is political campaigning is pretty blatant.)

1 comment:

Douglas said...

Read my myspace blog about Obama visiting troops.