Saturday, July 26, 2008

Obama's Landstuhl firestorm

The media furor over Barack Obama's cancelled visit with wounded U.S. troops at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center continues burning, and now the candidate himself has been forced to respond personally -- during a press conference after meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown:
"The staff was working this so I don’t know each and every detail but here is what I understand happened," Obama said. "We had scheduled to go, we had no problem at all in leaving, we always leave press and staff off -- that is why we left it off the schedule. We were treating it in the same way we treat a visit to Walter Reed which I was able to do a few weeks ago without any fanfare whatsoever. I was going to be accompanied by one of my advisors, a former military officer."
Continued Obama, "And we got notice that he would be treated as a campaign person, and it would therefore be perceived as political because he had endorsed my candidacy but he wasn’t on the Senate staff. That triggered then a concern that maybe our visit was going to be perceived as political. And the last thing that I want to do is have injured soldiers and the staff at these wonderful institutions having to sort through whether this is political or not or get caught in the crossfire between campaigns."
"So rather than go forward and potentially get caught up in what might have been considered a political controversy of some sort," Obama said, "what we decided was that we not make a visit and instead I would call some of the troops that were there. So that essentially would be the extent of the story."
Obama's version doesn't quite square with what others have said. For instance, "we left it off the schedule"? No, it was on the schedule, which was why the media started asking questions when it was cancelled.

At any rate, Obama's comments merely added more oxygen to the fire: MSNBC, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Times, the New York Daily News, and Reuters all jump on the story this morning. And what's news on Saturday morning is sure to be discussed on the Sunday morning talk shows which, in turn, generate stories in Monday's paper. So there's your big "welcome home" message, Democrats: Obama disses the troops!


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