Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ron Fournier strikes again

AP story on the front page of the WSJ: "McCain Blasts Obama on Troop Visit"

Obama's campaign called the accusation "wildly inappropriate." His spokesman has claimed that the visit to a military hospital in Germany was scrapped after the Pentagon raised concerns about political activity on a military base. Earlier, though, the campaign had said Mr. Obama decided the visit might be seen as inappropriate politicking. However, the Pentagon said the senator was never told not to visit.

The story reads like a companion piece to McCain's web ad:

The Pentagon spokesman the AP finally mentions by name in the last graf is also quoted on the subject by WaPo's Dan Balz, and at more length.

"The Senator's staff was informed of the limits on what the military can do with respect to a political campaign and how we could support a senator's visit to Landstuhl and, quite frankly, I expected them to have the visit."

Quite frankly? Hmm... I can't help but think that's the kind of statement the Pentagon's spokesman would make if he were under the impression that having Barack Obama catch heat for this wouldn't be such a bad thing.

As the Post, but not the AP piece explains, Obama's Europe stops were not part of his official congressional trip, and is funded by his campaign. Had Obama and his entourage descending on a military hospital in Germany, he would at least been at risk of violating some (or all) of the regulations separating the military from political campaigns.

I don't know what the restrictions were that the Pentagon would have placed on an Obama visit. Would he have had to travel without any expressly campaign-oriented staff? I like the idea of rules like that, personally, but if they're at all onerous it's absurd to expect a candidate to make the trip anyway.

As for the larger point, this is a totally chickenshit ad by John McCain. The guy solicits (and receives) credit for not trading on his military record, even though he does it every chance he gets. This isn't even a legitimate opportunity to play "I love the troops more than you," but there he is, making an asshole out of himself.

Ah, yes. I knew I read somewhere that this attack is being made in completely bad faith. TPM got confirmation from the Pentagon that they told the Obama campaign, after they had left for the trip, that he couldn't come to the base in Germany with campaign staff (as opposed to Senate staff). So the Pentagon effectively cancelled the visit, unless you expect him to go anywhere without his campaign staff, which is just naive.

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