Thursday, July 31, 2008

And we'll all feel gay when Johnny comes marching home

(Video showing McCain's real support for the troops)

The (Manchester) Guardian has a take on the latest Swiftboat McCain ad:
John McCain is portraying Barack Obama as a lightweight better prepared to walk a red carpet than sit in the Oval Office. A television advert released today links the Democratic candidate for president with two starlets of questionable reputation: Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

. . . It's unclear how effective the McCain spot will be. A Gallup poll released yesterday shows that 61% of registered voters aged 18-29 back Obama, compared to 31% for McCain. That would indicate a large segment of Hilton and Spears's fan base already plans to vote for Obama.

The Democrats today wasted little time in mocking the McCain camp for using the two women – most recently in the news for giving up custody of her children to ex Kevin Federline, in Spears's case, and for violating her probation in a drunk driving case, in Hilton's - in the advert.

McCain's ad is not only stupid, it's well, stupid. For one thing, it's not substantive, and it's pretty insulting to:
  • Millions of Americans who voted for BO during Primary season,
  • 200k Germans who showed up to hear BO speak,
  • Nouri al-Maliki, who is supposed to be the most important Iraqi leader ever,
  • Every American, Dem or Repub, who takes Presidential elections seriously.
That McCain's camp sees this as a positive attack shows a pretty shallow belief in American politics.

But that's no surprise, since they took this line of attack when BO didn't visit the 'right' troops in Germany. From Media Matters, a timeline of a smear:
At 7:42 a.m. ET on July 24, the German magazine Der Spiegel's online "Obama Live Ticker" reported that "Obama has cancelled a planned short visit to the Rammstein and Landstuhl US military bases in the southwest German state of Rhineland-Palatinate." According to Der Spiegel: "The visits were planned for Friday. 'Barack Obama will not be coming to us,' a spokesperson for the US military hospital in Landstuhl announced. 'I don't know why.' Shortly before the same spokeswoman had announced a planned visit by Obama." Accusations by conservative bloggers and Republican officials -- echoed in the media -- that Obama was "snubbing" wounded soldiers or that he placed greater importance on "working out" or "shopping" immediately followed the Der Spiegel report:

In a July 24 Hot Air entry, posted at 10:50 a.m. ET, citing "Der Spiegel's blog report[ing] on Obama's priorities," blogger Ed Morrissey wrote that "thousands of screaming German fans at the Tiergarten take precedence over visiting Americans serving their country at Ramstein and Landstuhl. Maybe one of the networks following Obama could interview a few of the soldiers about how they perceive that set of priorities from Obama." Morrissey later updated his post to say: "Obama canceled a previously-planned stop to visit thousands of American service personnel, including troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan being treated at Landstuhl, so he could hold a political rally for Germans and go shopping in Berlin." Morrissey's purported source for this claim was a blog entry by ABC News senior national correspondent Jake Tapper that did not mention the cancellation of the troop visit or that Obama planned to go shopping.

In an 11:38 a.m. post on The Swamp, the Chicago Tribune's Washington bureau blog, reporter Jill Zuckman wrote: "A Republican friend of the Swamp helpfully points out that Sen. Barack Obama seems to have time to visit the gym for a workout today, but not to visit the troops during his stay in Germany tomorrow." Zuckman went on to write: "Thanks to a statement from senior adviser Robert Gibbs, the issue seems to be one of ethics and propriety, rather than time." Zuckman quoted Gibbs' statement: "For the second part of his trip, the senator wanted to visit the men and women at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center to express his gratitude for their service and sacrifice. The senator decided out of respect for these servicemen and women that it would be inappropriate to make a stop to visit troops at a U.S. military facility as part of a trip funded by the campaign." Zuckman also quoted the McCain campaign's response: "Barack Obama is wrong. It is never 'inappropriate' to visit our men and women in the military."

Politico senior political writer Jonathan Martin wrote in a 1:46 p.m. entry to his blog that Republicans were "smartly" attacking Obama over the Der Spiegel report, adding: "The optics here are not good: Obama has time to get in a workout and give a speech to a crowd mostly comprised of Europeans, but can't be bothered to visit American troops wounded in action recovering at a military hospital."

On the July 24 edition of Fox News' Your World, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) said that "one of the things that you try to do at least once when you've been to Afghanistan and Iraq, as I have, and as John [McCain] has many times, is to stop by Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, and visit the hospital there at Landstuhl." Kyl continued: "It is a tremendous experience, but a life-changing experience. And not to be too critical, but I notice that Obama had plenty of time to shoot hoops and do some things like that, get a workout, but he didn't have time to stop by there. And I would have thought that would've been something he would really want to do on this trip."
On the July 24 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, radio host and Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham said: "I think Barack Obama could have gone there and given a very pro-American and very strong speech. I don't think this was it. I think it was a good delivery. He looked great. I think the fact that he didn't go visit the troops at the military bases, and yet figured out how to have enough time to work out in the Ritz Carlton gym -- I think that looks really bad. I don't think that plays well in Ohio. I don't think it plays well in Michigan."

In addition to the statement from Gibbs, quoted above by Zuckman, Obama campaign adviser retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott Gration issued this statement, as reported by on July 25:

"We learned from the Pentagon last night that the visit would be viewed instead as a campaign event. ... Senator Obama did not want to have a trip to see our wounded warriors perceived as a campaign event when his visit was to show his appreciation for our troops and decided instead not to go." also reported Gibbs' subsequent remarks to reporters on the Obama campaign plane:

"The statement that I sent out and the statement that General Gration sent out are consistent in that what General Gration learned from the Pentagon, that the trip to Ramstein and Landstuhl will be viewed as a campaign stop. ... The decision that Senator Obama made with that information was that we would not put our warriors in the position of being involved in a campaign stop. Therefore he made the decision not to make the stop."


"He could go as a United States senator, but it was pretty clear from the guidance that we received from the Pentagon that the trip would be viewed as a campaign stop. ... Given the information that we had received, Senator Obama made the decision that we were not gonna have wounded men and women become involved in a campaign event or what would be perceived as a campaign event."

By July 25, conservatives in the media began claiming that Obama had canceled the visit because there would be no media allowed inside the Landstuhl hospital. In an update to a July 24 entry to NBC News' First Read blog, NBC News chief Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski and Pentagon producer Courtney Kube wrote:

A U.S. military official tells NBC News they were making preparations for Sen. Barack Obama to visit wounded troops at the Landstuhl Medical Center at Ramstein, Germany on Friday, but "for some reason the visit was called off."

One military official who was working on the Obama visit said because political candidates are prohibited from using military installations as campaign backdrops, Obama's representatives were told, "he could only bring two or three of his Senate staff member, no campaign officials or workers." In addition, "Obama could not bring any media. Only military photographers would be permitted to record Obama's visit."

The official said "We didn't know why" the request to visit the wounded troops was withdrawn. "He (Obama) was more than welcome. We were all ready for him."

In a July 25 Hot Air entry posted at 7:21 a.m., Morrissey cited Miklaszewski and Kube's First Read post in claiming that "[w]hen Obama found out he couldn't use the visit as a photo op, he canceled." (First Read made no such allegation -- indeed, the military official quoted in the post claimed not to know why Obama decided not to go through with the visit.) Conservative radio hosts Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh made this same accusation later on June 25. On the July 25 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh claimed:

LIMBAUGH: By the way, he canceled that -- two appearances yesterday with the troops in Germany, and you know what the excuse now is?

Aw, Jeebus, just read the whole thing. As a serious issue, and as journalism, it falls somewhere between a game of Telephone, and making crank calls asking if they have Prince Albert in a can.

But the Right take this crap seriously. Thus showing their un-seriousness.