John McCain continued to press Barack Obama on the aborted visit to Landstuhl today. In speaking with George Stephanopolous, he underscored the event as a demonstration of poor judgment and skewed priorities by Obama and his campaign. He scoffed at the notion that the Pentagon would tell a Senator that he could not visit wounded troops on a trip abroad, and McCain told Stephanopolous how he would react if told that:
In Landstuhl, Germany, when I went through, I visited the hospital. But the important thing is that, if I had been told by the Pentagon that I couldn’t visit those troops, and I was there and wanted to be there, I guarantee you, there would have been a seismic event. And so, I believe he had the opportunity to go without the media. And I’ll let the facts speak for themselves.
Yesterday, my friend Lt. Col. Joe Repya, a retired Army officer who returned to active duty in his 50s to serve in Iraq, commented on the Landstuhl decision. Joe originally worked for Fred Thompson in this campaign and now is a member of Veterans for McCain, and his statement got picked up by Fox News:
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.
Interestingly, Joe just joined the blogosphere a few weeks ago, and he’s discovering this weekend what it feels like to get recognition: the hate mail has begun to flow heavily to his inbox. I teased him yesterday that he’s finally arrived, but people probably should know Joe’s lifelong commitment to service for his country before sending hate mail his way — especially given the truth of his remarks, and the (unexpectedly) even tone in which Joe delivered them. Joe feels passionately about supporting the troops, and rightfully so.
The incident has overshadowed the European tour, and for good reason. No one thinks that Obama needs to visit every military base in the world, and had he never arranged to visit Landstuhl in the first place, this never would have been a problem at all. However, Obama did commit to the visit, and he canceled only because the campaign got into a snit over the fact that a senior military adviser could not accompany Obama. In effect, Obama took out his frustration on the troops that had looked forward to the high-profile visit as a morale booster.
That shows immaturity, a lack of judgment, and political idiocy on the part of Obama and his campaign. All of that is very much fair game for McCain to highlight — and for voters to consider. Obama gave an demonstration of his priorities, and thanks to his media entourage, the nation saw it.