In an interview with Fox News, Barack Obama defended his decision not to visit the troops at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.
Bill Hemmer asked Obama if it was a mistake for him not to go visit the troops. Obama answered, “Well no, not at all. It was scheduled, we intended to go and we got wind that there was some concern that this might be perceived as political; because we were using campaign resources. And at that point, the last thing I wanted to do is to in anyway distract the terrific work that’s being done in terms of treating our troops, by getting it fouled up by a bunch of politics. So, since I had a chance to visit folks from Walter Reid, we had a chance to visit folks in Iraq.”
Just to be clear, it was the Pentagon who told him that his visit might be viewed as political. I wonder if they have ever told John McCain this. Obama stayed away because he wanted to avoid the appearance of his trip looking like a campaign tour. He was trying to appear presidential. However, it is very suspicious that the Pentagon would tell a United States Senator who is travelling abroad on what is supposed to be a fact finding mission that visiting the troops would look political.
This might come as a surprise to the military brass, but every politician who visits the troops does so for political reasons. The Pentagon’s problem with Obama is his opposition to the war in Iraq, and they didn’t want to give him a stage for his views. The reality is that the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are doing a job. Some of them prefer not to get in the politics of why they are there. Some support the mission, while others are opposed. All of them agree that they want to come home.
Obama was in a damned if you do, and damned if you don’t situation. If he visited the troops, his critics would have said that he was using his trip for political purposes, but if he didn’t visit the troops, Republicans would label him unpatriotic. There was no right answer for this dilemma.
I think that Obama made the right call, because this is a tax payer funded trip, and it would have looked like campaigning if he would have visited the troops. Obama’s critics are looking for anything to keep the hopeless campaign of John McCain alive. In the big picture, that is what all of this is really about.