Andrea Mitchell committed a random act of journalism, yesterday, when she set the record straight on McCain's scurrilous attack ad. Mitchell would be in a position to know, since she was there.
In appearances on MSNBC, including "Hardball," she debunked McCain's claims that Obama cancelled his visit with wounded troops because he couldn't bring cameras. From the transcript (all emphases mine):
MITCHELL: ... And the other thing is, did he make a bad call in deciding not to go to Ramstein? He had every right to go to Ramstein...
BARNICLE: To visit the...
MITCHELL: ... to visit the troops in Landstuhl.
He had already been to visit the troops in Iraq without cameras, without an entourage. And he got, I think—his people, rather, got so backed off by warnings from the Pentagon, now, be please careful, and don‘t bring your military aide, because he‘s now a political aide. The Pentagon was way too aggressive probably in that. And they got so nervous, oh, well, this is going to look political, and they were damned if they did or damned if they didn‘t.
MITCHELL: Let me just finish one—just one point.
FINEMAN: I‘m sorry.
MITCHELL: There was never any intention—let me be absolutely clear about this. The press was never going to go. The entourage was never going to go. There was never an intention to make this political.
But by tacking it on to the tail end of a political—the political leg of the trip, they opened themselves up, they feared, to the criticism. And, if they had gone, they would have been criticized. And not going, they were criticized.
And the McCain commercial on this subject is completely wrong, factually wrong.
BARNICLE: Well, let‘s watch the commercial. And tell us where it‘s wrong.
. . .
MITCHELL: Well, first of all, the picture, the image that they use of him playing basketball is with the troops shot by a—an Army cameraman. That was DOD footage that the—the Pentagon shot of him in Kuwait shooting hoops—and a three-pointer, I might add.
BARNICLE: Yes. Swish.
MITCHELL: So, when he went to see the injured troops in the Green Zone, he did not bring a camera. There was no Pentagon camera. He did not even confirm to those of us covering by—covering that he had gone. I had to find out that he had gone through other sources, military sources.
I mean, the fact is that he was never planning to take the press corps. The press corps was going to be on the tarmac, locked up on the airplane while he went off by himself.
The only issue was whether he could bring a political aide, who was a retired military—retired Air Force general...
There is more on The Huffington Post, including a video of another Mitchell appearance and a "Countdown" segment discussing the perception/reality gap on McCain's "support" of the troops. Here are some highlights:
OLBERMANN: In falsely accusing Senator Obama of ditching U.S. troops in Germany because of press restrictions, the latest McCain campaign ad made an even more outlandish claim, quote, “John McCain is always there for our troops.”
Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: Except when he isn‘t.
As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid noted in mid-2007, McCain only showed up for four of the past 14 Senate votes on Iraq. So far this year, he shown up for none, not even the resolution honoring the sacrifice made by the fallen.
And looking at just part of McCain‘s record of supporting the troops since the war in Iraq began, April 2003, he tabled the motion to provide over $1 billion of National Guard and Reserve equipment. October 2003, he tabled an amendment to provide an additional $322 million for safety equipment for U.S. troops in Iraq. March 2004, he voted against eliminating abusive tax loopholes that would have increased veterans‘ medical care by $1.8 billion.
March 2006, he voted against closing corporate tax loopholes that would have increased veteran medical services by $1.5 billion. April 2006, he voted against providing an extra $430 million for veteran outpatient care. May 2006, he voted against $20 million for veteran health care facilities.
March 2007, he didn‘t bother on a resolution to start redeploying troops from Iraq by March 2008. September 2007, he voted against Senator Webb‘s amendment that would specify minimum rest periods for troops in-between deployments; and in May 2008, he first spoke out against Senator Webb‘s G.I. bill and then didn‘t bother to show up to vote on it.
But none of that stopped him from accepting President Bush‘s praise when the bill ultimately passed.
Joining me now: our own Rachel Maddow, the host of “Rachel Maddow Show” on Air America Radio.
. . .
MADDOW: ... I think, they‘ve been waiting to count on so far, the idea that if you to squint and don‘t focus too much, the fact that he is a veteran can sort of substitute for the idea that he has done right by veterans as a politician, that he‘s done right by veterans and by the troops as a senator.
But the fact is, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, they gave John McCain a “D” for his voting record; they gave Barack Obama a “B-plus.” Disabled Americans Veterans gave John McCain just a 20 percent voting record; they gave Barack Obama an 80 percent voting record.
There‘s a difference between being a veteran and supporting veterans as a politician. He‘s just counting on people not being able to tell the difference.