Barack Obama attempted a “me too” moment in Friday’s debate when John McCain mentioned the bracelet he received from the family of a soldier killed in Iraq and called it a reminder to win the war. Obama fumbled through the name of Sergeant Ryan David Jopeck while making the point that some families of those killed in action drew a different lesson from the loss, asking Obama to tell voters of their loss and their opposition to the war that caused it. Apparently, they asked Obama something else, too, but he wasn’t listening. Warner Todd Huston at Newsbusters explains:
Shockingly, however, Madison resident Brian Jopek, the father of Ryan Jopek, the young soldier who tragically lost his life to a roadside bomb in 2006, recently said on a Wisconsin Public Radio show that his family had asked Barack Obama to stop wearing the bracelet with his son’s name on it. Yet Obama continues to do so despite the wishes of the family. …
Brian Jopek: Because of some of the negative feedback she’s gotten on the Internet, you know Internet blogs, you know people accusing her of… or accusing Obama of trying to get votes doing it… and that sort of thing.
Radio Host Moberg: Yeah
Jopek: She has turned down any subsequent interviews with the media because she just didn’t want it to get turned into something that it wasn’t. She had told me in an email that she had asked, actually asked Mr. Obama to not wear the bracelet any more at any of his public appearances. Which I don’t think he’s…
Moberg: It has been a while since he’s brought it up.
Jopek: Right. But, the other night I was watching the news and he was on, uh, speaking somewhere and he was still wearing it on his right wrist. I could see it on his right wrist. So, that’s his own choice. I mean that’s something Barack Obama, that’s a choice that he continues to wear it despite Tracy asking him not to… Because she is a Barack Obama supporter and she didn’t want to do anything to sabotage his campaign, so, if he’s still wearing the bracelet then, uh, that of course is entirely up to him.
This interview was from March, according to Warner (you can hear it at this link). It’s possible that they have changed their minds again, and not unlikely, given the family’s support for Obama. Jopek is divorced from his wife and may not have been speaking for her. If Tracy Jopek wanted Obama to continue to use the bracelet to make this case, or changed her mind about him stopping, then Obama did nothing wrong.
However, if the Jopeks did ask him to stop wearing the bracelet and stop talking about it on the campaign trail, it’s disrespectful for Obama to continue to do so. He should have honored their wishes and used a different example. Obama could have talked about Cindy Sheehan’s loss if he was desperate for one, but there are other Gold Star families who oppose the war and probably would support Obama’s use of their loss as a campaign talking point.
Since this interview was six months ago, we should wait for the Jopeks to say whether they object to the use of the bracelet by Obama. Obama’s use of the bracelet was obviously planned, and I’d have a hard time believing that no one would have thought to check with the Jopeks first.