Competing optics: Cheering Germans or American military? Update: Snubbing wounded soldiers? Update: Touring Berlin instead? Update: It is/is not a campaign event?
posted at 10:50 am on July 24, 2008 by Ed Morrissey
I guess this is a question of priorities. Barack Obama apparently ran short on time in his visit to Germany today, and travelers know how schedules can slip during long tours, even without all of the events Obama had planned. Those circumstances force people to prioritize their time, and eliminate less-useful stops.
So what did Obama cut today? Der Spiegel’s blog reports on Obama’s priorities:
1:42 p.m.: SPIEGEL ONLINE has learned that Obama has cancelled a planned short visit to the Rammstein and Landstuhl US military bases in the southwest German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. The visits were planned for Friday. “Barack Obama will not be coming to us,” a spokesperson for the US military hospital in Landstuhl announced. “I don’t know why.” Shortly before the same spokeswoman had announced a planned visit by Obama.
On the other hand, the campaign apparently has no problem in keeping this event on its schedule:
The message here is that thousands of screaming German fans at the Tiergarten take precedence over visiting Americans serving their country at Ramstein and Landstuhl. Maybe one of the networks following Obama could interview a few of the soldiers about how they perceive that set of priorities from Obama.
Der Spiegel also notes that the French seem diffident about Obama’s visit to Paris, with none of the enthusiasm of the neighbors to the east:
3:30 p.m.: While Obama’s Berlin visit has caused a stir, hardly anyone is interested in his trip to Paris on Friday. There are hardly any French media reports on the eve of his visit. There is merely some grumbling about the extensive itinerary for his trip to Berlin. “A speech in Berlin, five little hours in Paris,” writes French daily Le Monde.
Heck, why didn’t Obama skip Paris? He could have still worked in a visit to the American bases in Germany. Apparently, even diffident French get priority over American military personnel.
Update: A number of Hot Air readers reminded me that Landstuhl’s mission includes treating the wounded from the war:
The Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) is an overseas military hospital operated by the U.S. Army and the Department of Defense. LRMC is the largest military hospital outside of the continental US. It is located near Landstuhl, Germany, and serves as the nearest treatment center for wounded soldiers coming from Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, it serves military personnel stationed in Germany as well as their family members.
A large proportion of serious casualties from the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters are treated here, flown in via the Ramstein Air Base.
So Obama’s priorities look even more askew than first thought.
Update II: Well, this gets better. According to Jake Tapper, the problem wasn’t scheduling at all:
Obama noted that in a break from his whirlwind schedule, “we’ve got some down time tonight. What are you guys gonna do in Berlin? Huh? Huh? You guys got any big. plans? …I’ve never been to Berlin, so…I would love to tour around a little bit.”
Obama canceled a previously-planned stop to visit thousands of American service personnel, including troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan being treated at Landstuhl, so he could hold a political rally for Germans and go shopping in Berlin. Now that’s a nice set of priorities for a man who wants to become Commander in Chief.
Update III: The spin on this has gotten so bad that T. Boone Pickens might want Team Obama in his new wind farm. First, from Jake Tapper, the O-Team says a visit to Landstuhl would have been “inappropriate” for a campaign trip:
“During his trip as part of the CODEL to Afghanistan and Iraq, Senator Obama visited the combat support hospital in the Green Zone in Baghdad and had a number of other visits with the troops. For the second part of his trip, the senator wanted to visit the men and women at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center to express his gratitude for their service and sacrifice. The senator decided out of respect for these servicemen and women that it would be inappropriate to make a stop to visit troops at a U.S. military facility as part of a trip funded by the campaign.”
And CBS gets the opposite story:
“Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen – a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world,” Obama said precluding the buzz that his speech today is a campaign rally.
So which is it? A campaign event or not a campaign event?