Video: Obama defends skipping trip to visit troops; Update: McCain camp unloads

Two clips, one from his interview with Fox and one from his presser on Downing Street. Team McCain thinks his statements here are inconsistent because, supposedly, with Fox he’s stressing that he didn’t want to distract from the troops and in the presser he’s stressing that he didn’t want it to be perceived as political. I don’t see the distinction, since he goes on to say in the presser that his main concern in having the event be perceived as political is that the hospital would end up caught in an Obama/McCain crossfire which would in turn … distract from the troops. But judge for yourself. Either way, he and his team have handled this lamely, first suggesting that they’d arrived independently at a judgment that the visit would appear too political, then hinting that the Pentagon had sandbagged them by dropping DoD regs on them at the eleventh hour, then finally backing off and copping to what appears to be the truth — that someone in the campaign, possibly Ret. Gen. Gration, pitched a fit because the regs wouldn’t let military advisors go with Obama to the hospital, whereupon Obama inexplicably decided he wouldn’t go either. For all the heat McCain’s justifiably taken this week for amateurishness, this is twice as bush league and in a more serious context. Embarrassing.

But never mind that. If it’s insight you want about Obama, pay attention to the very end of the Fox clip, where Hemmer talks about asking him whether anything he’d seen on the trip had given him second thoughts about his policies — a particularly urgent question given that even the AP is admitting this afternoon that we’re on our way to victory in Iraq. If you missed last night’s quote of the day from John Dickerson at Slate, read it now. Even the left (the non-kneejerk left, at least) is starting to worry.

Update: Via Team Maverick, Ret. Lt. Col. (and friend of Ed) Joe Repya lowers the boom:

Today, retired Lt. Colonel Joe Repya issued the following statement on Barack Obama’s cancelled visit to Ramstein and Landstuhl:

“The most solemn duty of a commander in chief is to fulfill his responsibility to the men and women who serve this country in uniform. Barack Obama had scheduled a visit with wounded American troops who have served with honor and distinction in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but he broke that commitment, instead flitting from one European capital to the next. Several explanations were offered, none was convincing and each was at odds with the statements of American military leaders in Germany and Washington. For a young man so apt at playing president, Barack Obama badly misjudged the important demands of the office he seeks. Visits with world leaders and speeches to cheering Europeans shouldn’t be a substitute for comforting injured American heroes.”

Army Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Joe Repya served 30 years of duty and three wars, Vietnam, Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was born in 1946 in Gary, Indiana. He was the oldest son of a disabled combat wounded veteran of the European Campaign of World War II. Awarded an ROTC scholarship he attended Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI, graduating in 1969. Upon graduation he was appointed to the Regular Army as a Second Lieutenant in the Infantry. His 30 years of service in the US Army (12 years Active and 18 years in the National Guard & Reserves) lasted from 1969 until 2006. He served as a Combat Infantry Rifle Platoon Leader in Viet Nam in 1970/71 with the 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment (Band of Brothers “Currahee’s”), and an Aero Rifle Platoon Leader with A Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment. In Desert Storm 1990/91, he served as a Combat Helicopter Pilot and Staff Officer with the 4th Brigade (Aviation), 1st Infantry Division (The Big Red One). He initially retired in 1998.

After the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, he was one of 12,000 US Army retirees who volunteered for Retiree Recall to Active US Army duty for Operation Iraqi Freedom. LTC Repya was selected as one of only 350 retirees who were returned to active duty status. At 58 years old on October 1, 2004 he returned as an Aviation Branch Officer for two more additional years of active duty service with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, KY. He served for nine months as the G-3 Air for the Division. In 2005 he served as the Senior Liaison Officer for the 101st Airborne Division with the Multi National Corps Headquarters at Camp Victory, Baghdad, Iraq. He reentered retired status at the end of September 2006 at the age of 60.

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