I’m getting peppered with e-mail about two videos regarding Barack Obama, one his new ad and another that contains some home-town criticism of Obama’s first term in the Senate.  Let’s start with the second, in which the local CBS affiliate reported that Obama traveled more than any other first-term Senator on the taxpayer dime — and to some exotic locales:

A new study claims Sen. Barack Obama travels too much at the expense of taxpayers. The findings show he spent more taxpayer money on trips than any other first-term senator.

As CBS 2 Political Editor Mike Flannery reports, the world traveler is defending his globe-trotting and says he has no intention of slowing down.

Obama traveled last weekend using a privately paid for charter plane dubbed “Obama One” to carry his campaign for president to Iowa.

Now that he is running for president an earlier round of travel is under scrutiny with critics questioning why he used more taxpayer dollars than any other freshman senator to travel overseas.

In fact, Obama spent almost $10,000 more than any other freshman Senator in the 109th Congress. He racked up over $28,000 in bills for his junkets, which included stops in Israel, Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan, Kenya, and South Africa. Obama’s office pointed to his membership on the Foreign Relations Committee, claiming that Obama did substantive work on those occasions, and that bringing his family on the trips did not make them taxpayer-funded vacations.

Obviously, Obama wanted to build a foreign-policy resume for his presidential run, which tends to argue against his scoffing at presidential aspirations, a clip included in this video above. However, given all of the travel that he did on the taxpayer dime, one has to wonder why Obama only visited Iraq once (and only in January 2006), and not a single trip to Afghanistan. Was there any foreign-relations issues bigger than Iraq and Afghanistan during his three short years in the Senate? Maybe that’s why Obama has not held a single meeting of his subcommittee to discuss American policy in Afghanistan, which is in his purview.

Next is his first general-election campaign ad which, as e-mailers note, contains a few stretches of the truth:

It’s a pleasant ad, one that maintains the high road and sounds a lot of what we like to think are American themes and displaying American values. It’s in the second half where Obama runs off the rails a bit, as several media outlets have already noted:

PolitiFact: Obama’s “third claim on veterans health benefits is less clear… Obama was not a sponsor of the bill, and without more detail we can’t confirm whether he contributed to the law…” (06/23/08)

FactCheck.org: “[F]or Obama to say that he ‘passed a law’ casts him as a legislative Lone Ranger, hogging credit that properly belongs to other parties as well.” (06/20/08)

Washington Post: “Obama sponsored or co-sponsored – but did not ‘pass’ – the welfare and tax measures but does not mention that these were in the Illinois legislature in 1997 and 2000. He sponsored congressional measures that helped hospitalized veterans, but in a relatively minor way: extending beyond 90 days the period in which they can receive free meals and free phone calls to family members. Obama may have turned down Wall Street jobs after graduating from Columbia University in 1983, but he spent a year working for Business International Corp. in New York before becoming a community organizer in Chicago, and he later joined a law firm there.” (06/20/08)

New York Times: “Mr. Obama refers to three bills that passed during his time in the Illinois Senate and in the United States Senate, and he did have a hand in passing all three. But he did not actually vote on the third bill, the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed overwhelmingly in January.” (06/20/08)

Chicago Tribune:  “Obama ad cites bill he did not vote onWhile the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee authored provisions that ultimately made it into the law, he did not vote for its passage on Jan. 22, when he was busy campaigning in advance of the South Carolina primary.” (06/20/08)

Will any or all of this matter to the voters?  Hard to say.  The ad’s pleasant themes in the first half sets the tone well enough that most people aren’t really paying attention to what Obama’s saying in the second half.  He moved people from welfare to work?  He helped veterans?  Sounds great!

On the other hand, if the McCain campaign and the RNC keeps hammering on Obama’s half-truths and the one flat-out lie regarding the NDAA, it could help define Obama as either careless with his facts or dishonest altogether.  He has more vulnerability on the travel issue, because the American people clearly didn’t gain any advantage from almost $30,000 of his junkets.  They didn’t even prompt Obama to hold meetings on policy under his direction, let alone result in any legislative efforts or strengthening of American security.

McCain has to get out in front on this, as well as on Obama’s rather stunning reversal on public financing.  He did the latter in his national TV spot that Allahpundit featured earlier.  He needs to keep up the pressure, because from what we have seen, Obama doesn’t respond well at all to it.