NYT wonders: Why didn't Obama leave his aides behind and visit those wounded troops alone?

Gooooood question. One that’s been asked before. Repeatedly.

Before his visit to Ramstein Air Base, which is near the medical center, was canceled, the plan called for reporters to stay behind at an airport terminal while Mr. Obama and one adviser met with the troops. Why? The Pentagon does not allow reporters and photographers inside Landstuhl…

[O]ne question remains: Why didn’t Mr. Obama leave his aides behind, even the retired general, and make the visit by himself?

“Even him going alone would likely be characterized by some as a political event,” Mr. Gibbs said in an interview on Monday, adding, “He decided not to put the troops in that position.”

Really? Then why’d he meet with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, or at Walter Reed a few weeks ago? He has every right to go in his capacity as senator, minus his campaign apparatus. And if they were so worried about perceptions of politicking, why did Gibbs himself tell the media pool on the plane that the visit had been planned “for a long time”? Surely they’d already weighed that factor and decided it was worth going — until Gen. Gration was turned away, whereupon the whole plan changed. Team McCain wants answers, too:

Today, Command Sergeant Major Craig Layton, USA (Ret.) — who served as the Command Sergeant Major at Landstuhl — issued the following statement on Barack Obama’s canceled visit to Ramstein and Landstuhl:

“Having spent two years as the Command Sergeant Major at Landstuhl Hospital, I am always grateful for the attention that facility receives from members of Congress. There is no more important work done by the United States Army than to care for those who have been wounded in the service our country. While Americans troops remain engaged in two hot wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is a steady stream of casualties to the hospital, and a steady stream of visitors who wish to meet with those troops and thank them for their service.

“Senator Obama has explained his decision to cancel a scheduled visit there by blaming the military, which would not allow one of his political advisers to join him in a tour of the facility. Why Senator Obama felt he needed an adviser with him to visit U.S. troops is unclear, but if Senator Obama isn’t comfortable meeting wounded American troops without his entourage, perhaps he does not have the experience necessary to serve as commander in chief.”

Isn’t the most plausible explanation at this point that Gration’s ego was wounded by the Pentagon deciding he couldn’t go, and Obama, forced to choose between leaving him behind and soothing his ruffled feathers by canceling the trip to see the troops, chose the latter?

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