John McCain Playing Politics with the Troops

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I have written a good deal over the years about how much Republicans, and Bush in particular, love to use our military as political props. Now, when Obama does the right thing, by respecting a Pentagon directive, and canceling a visit to wounded troops in Germany, McCain resorts to a cheap maneuver, that, once again, uses our fighting men and women as political pawns.

As per VetVoice:

Barack Obama canceled a pre-planned visit to the troops in Germany yesterday after being told by the Pentagon that the trip would violate a Pentagon policy prohibiting campaign stops on military installations. No problem there.

However, the McCain campaign is now blasting Obama:

The McCain camp has nonetheless been using Obama's canceled trip to insinuate that he's anti-troops. "Barack Obama is wrong," McCain spokesperson Brian Rogers said in a statement yesterday. "It is never 'inappropriate' to visit our men and women in the military."

Clever talking point. Too bad it's total bullshit. There are times when it is completely inappropriate to visit our troops, like when you're a candidate for office, traveling with your campaign. The McCain campaign knows this perfectly well, having only recently been denied permission to speak at the Naval Aviation Museum.

And if that utterly fallacious statement from McCain's spokesman weren't enough, the campaign has leapt on this non-story with both feet and created what is probably their most disingenuous ad to date. (See above.) In it they imply that Obama made time for the gym, but not the troops, and that he didn't want to visit the troops without the cameras rolling. And the worst thing about this slime is that it will probably stick. Casting Democrats as "weak on defense" and "not supporting the troops" just never goes out of style.

But, at least one Senate Republican gets it. Here's Chuck Hagel, from his appearance on "Face the Nation."

CHUCK HAGEL: Let me add to that. As you know, Bob, the congressional delegation that you referred to ended when we parted in Jordan. At that point, it was a political trip for Senator Obama. I think it would have been inappropriate for him and certainly he would have been criticized by the McCain people and the press and probably should have been if on a political trip in Europe paid for by political funds-not the taxpayers-to go, essentially, then and be accused of using our wounded men and women as props for his campaign. I think the judgment there-and I don't know the facts by the way. I know what you've just read. No one has asked me about it other than what you've just asked about. But I think it would be totally inappropriate for him on a campaign trip to go to a military hospital and use those soldiers as props. So I think he probably, based on what I know, he did the right thing. We saw troops everywhere we went on the congressional delegation. We went out of our way to see those troops. We wanted to see those troops. And that's part of our job to see those troops, by the way, and listen to those troops, Bob. And we did.