Saturday, July 26, 2008

Obama and the troops – can you spell C-L-I-N-T-O-N?

by Rick Francona

Senator Barack Obama was having a great overseas trip, you know, criticizing a sitting president in front of the star-struck and enamored Europeans. Surprisingly, he did not get much applause as he told the Germans that he wanted them to increase their commitments to the NATO mission in Afghanistan. I’m not sure why – the Germans don’t shoot at the bad guys anyway. (German soldiers in Afghanistan - don't shoot the bad guys!)

The senator got the most applause when he vowed to end the war in Iraq – not that Germany has a stake in that conflict. The inexperienced candidate continues to use the wrong word – he needs to be vowing to “win” the war in Iraq, and only then withdraw American troops from the country. Simply ending the war – like taking my toys and going home – is exactly the wrong thing to do.

However, the most telling part of this trip is his decision not to meet with wounded members of the U.S. armed forces recovering in an American military hospital in Germany. After his love-fest with the Germans in Berlin, Obama was scheduled to travel to Landstuhl Army hospital, about an hour flight. There he was to meet the wounded soldiers that just might allow him to withdraw American forces without crating a power vacuum, a power vacuum sure to be filled by the Iranians.

Obama was told by the Pentagon that neither the press nor his campaign staff were permitted in hospital, as political campaign activities are not permitted on military installations. Of course, as a sitting United States senator, Mr. Obama was always welcome to visit the troops. The Pentagon even waived the prohibition on the senator’s campaign aircraft landing at nearby Ramstein Air Base to facilitate the visit.

Senator Obama canceled the visit. The message to the troops: no photo op, no visit. I’d rather go work out at the gym in the swank Ritz Carlton hotel.

The bad decision should haunt Obama. As a senator, not only does he have the right to visit wounded American troops, he has a duty. Obama can speak to 200,000 Germans but he can't spare a couple of hours for U.S. troops.

This reprises the specter of Bill and Hillary Clinton and their no-uniform policy for members of the U.S. armed forces at the White House. It shows the same disdain for the men and women who have volunteered to serve their country.

Shame on you, Senator. Given this display of disrespect to the troops, you have shown yourself not fit to command these patriots.