The McCain campaign, seeking to win points against the high-scoring Sen. Obama, went into attack mode this week. First, while Obama was in Germany, McCain ate at a German restaurant. It was a lame attempt to show that the Republican nominee did not have to engage in foreign travel. Whoever thought of that little caper needs another semester of Campaign 101. It fell flat.
Then the McCain camp and the right-wing blogs have spent the last three days trying to make Obama look as if he is only interested in a Kodak moment and could care less about our troops. Nothing could be further from the truth. The right-wing take is that Obama did not visit troops in Germany because the cameras were not allowed. If that is the case, then how do they explain Obama's visit in Washington, D.C., last month to Walter Reed to visit the wounded? How do they explain his visit in the Green Zone in Iraq to the combat support hospital? The number of press following Obama on this trip far exceeds the press following him last month in Washington, D.C. Obama did not want his visit to the wounded in Germany to be a circus. If he had visited the injured troops, he would have been taken to task for politicizing the suffering of our wounded. There would be no way of keeping the cameras away as he was making his way to the military base. So, no matter what he did it was a game of "gotcha" by the McCain camp.
McCain's attempt at looking more patriotic on troop and veterans' issues is pure smoke and mirrors. To put it in plain English, Obama's voting record on supporting our troops and veterans far exceeds McCain's. Documented by blogger Bob Schwartz's research, it is shown that three veterans groups have given Obama the thumbs up in terms of support for pro-veteran bills in the Senate. Vietnam Veterans of America, Disabled Veterans of America and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans for America all have tallied the Senate votes for each candidate. This included McCain's lack of support for a bill that would have provided a ton of money for vets by funding $1.5 billion in FY 2007 to be paid for by closing corporate tax loopholes. No matter how you slice it, McCain has a horrible record of vet support. Add to the voting record the McCain "no" vote on an amendment to provide $322 million for troop body armor.
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In another attempt at discrediting Obama, Republicans have been at it with the half-truths. They took aim at the fact that Obama has not had a hearing on Afghanistan. The facts say something very different. Chairman Biden said that the reason Obama did not hold hearings in his subcommittee is because these are held at the full committee level. According to ABC News, the Senate Armed Services Committee held six hearings in the last two years with the title "Afghanistan" or "Central Command" in the title. McCain was not present at any of the six hearings.
In Denver this week McCain took aim at Obama. He said that, "If Senator Obama had prevailed, American forces would have had to retreat under fire. The Iraqi Army would have collapsed. Civilian casualties would have increased dramatically. Al Qaeda would have killed the Sunni Sheikhs who had begun to cooperate with us, and the 'Sunni Awakening' would have been strangled at birth." Wow, that is a pretty depressing scenario considering that it is his party that holds the White House and put all our valuable resources fighting in Iraq while al-Qaida, the whole reason we are presumably in the war at this point is conducting their own surge in Afghanistan with their brethren in arms, the Taliban. McCain's attacks were shameless and even some Republicans in the talk radio business told me he sounded too angry.
The polls show that the presidential race is close. Obama has to convince the American people that he can lead as the country's first African American president, but McCain needs to convince voters that he can lead with real solutions not just angry sounding potshots at the Democratic Party nominee.
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