Controversy grows over Obama’s cancellation of troop hospital visit in Germany
Memeorandum is bursting with links this evening from lefties and righties discussing yesterday’s story about Obama’s cancellation of a scheduled visit toÂ wounded US troops in Germany.Â Â I briefly noted in a post this morning that it sound like the apparent reason the visit was cancelled was because Obama found out he couldn’t make a photo op out of it.
This story has, surprisingly, gained steam, with the Obama camp trying to claim that they didn’t know until the last minute that Obama would not be allowed to bring in campaign staff and media.Â I’ll take the Pentagon’s version of the story:
Chief Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell confirmed to PoliticoÂ that Department of Defense officialsÂ cautioned Barack Obama’s campaign thatÂ his plannedÂ visit to wounded American troops in Germany could not be political in nature and that he would be barred from bringing along campaign staff and reporters.Â Â He also said that Cindy McCain recently requested to visit sailors aboard the U.S.N.S. Comfort and was denied.
“Sen. ObamaÂ is welcome to visit Landstuhl or any military hospital in his official capacity as a United States senator,” Morrell said in a brief interview.Â “But there is a DOD policy which governs campaigning and electioneering at military facilities that would have to be respected if he were to visit. That distinction was relayed and made clear to campaign, and they made aÂ decision on their own based on that guidance.”
Morrell, in a subsequent interview, added that military officials told Obama he could only visit the military facility with his Secret Service detail and Senate staff.
“We made it clear to him that campaign staff and press would not be permitted to accompany him,” Morrell said of Obama.Â Â “We relayed those ground rules. They made a choice based upon the information we relayed to them.Â It was their choice. We had nothing to do with it.”
Either way, either version of the story makes Obama look bad.Â Â His own spokespeople are admitting he didn’t go because he couldn’t bring his campaign staffers with him.Â Read between the lines, that translates to because he couldn’t make a campaign event out of it, it was a no-go.Â Â As Blackfive said here, campaign staff or no, he still could have visited the troops privately.Â Â Â The man may be their Commander in Chief in a few months, for crying out loud.
Related to all this, Fox News’ Major Garrett delivered an (unintentional) verbal smackdown today in discussing a joke Obama made to himÂ about seeing Fox News on wherever he went to visit troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and suggesting that perhaps Bush made it that way.Â Â Click below to watch.Â The money quote is at the end (via Chickenhawk Express).
Relevant part of the transcript:
“Well, the implication was that somehow President Bush orders military bases around the world to show Fox News. That’s not the fact at all. If it’s on, it’s by choice, or more commonly it’s on by rotation. Most military bases rotate the cable networks, then throw in some ESPN and other viewing for the soldiers on the front lines. I think the most important point is not maybe throwing a jab at me, I mean it was all done in good fun, and I took no offense whatsoever. The point is this, David: Senator Obama has not spent much time on the frontlines in this war on terror. It’s his first trip ever to Afghanistan; only his second to Iraq. Perhaps had he been to the war theater more he’d know a little more about the viewing habits of the soldiers on the ground.”
More: Hannity sez:
“And, by the way, you know, I know for a fact because I talked to these kids when I went to Walter Reed and Bethesda, that literally the president would sneak on over often to go see these, kids — you never heard about it, it was never reported. As a matter of fact, I remember I was out there with Ollie North and they said, yeah the president was just here, two days ago, whatever it was. And you know, same thing with Donald Rumsfeld. Donald Rumsfeld used to go over there all the time, but he didn’t turn it into a campaign event.
“Anyway, so Obama has it on the schedule. The Pentagon says, look, you can come but they’re going to impose their rule against turning a visit by a politician into a campaign event. Now this is what we finally are finding out here. All the Pentagon said is they advised Obama’s staff — yeah of course he can visit the hospital and injured personnel in Germany but only in his capacity as a Member of Congress, in other words without the trappings of a political campaign, which by the way, it’s unfair to use sick soldiers who risked their lives as a political prop.
“Obama apparently cancelled the visit and went to work out instead. He went to work out and then said it would be inappropriate as part of a trip financed by his campaign. Well, as John McCain said, it’s never inappropriate if you are a United States Senator to visit a sick soldier. It’s never inappropriate. There’s not one taxpayer in the country that would have any opposition to this nor is there any rules against this. The only difference is the only restriction that was placed is that they don’t want to have candidates, you know, using the appearance for some type of political benefit. That wasn’t enough. He had to bring along of course the entourage and the multiple 10,000 media press secretaries along with him.
“So if you want my take on this, if you want to remember one thing about this trip is that Barack Obama chose to work out rather than see the wounded troops because he couldn’t bring Katie Couric, Charlie Gibson, and Brian Williams with him.”
By the way, here’s a mushy story written by someone who actually got to work out with Obama at that gym. Warning: Reading it could cause your blood to boil, and make you want to do something stupid out of sheer frustration. Only read it if there are no sharp objects nearby that you could hurt yourself with.