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Posted by on Jul 27, 2008 in Politics | 48 comments

McCain Campaign Ad: Obama Chose Going To Gym Over Visiting Troops

Republican Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign opened both political barrels on rival Democratic Senator Barack Obama with a short but blistering TV campaign ad that charges that Obama chose to go to the gym rather than visit wounded troops because the Pentagon wouldn’t allow cameras to go with him.

It’s an ad (watch ad yourself at the bottom of this post) that is being received predictably by both sides. Democrats are outraged, Republicans defend it. But the fact that it’s coming before the two party political conventions have been held as part of an increasingly ugly battle between McCain and Obama underscores a reality:

So much for 2008 being a year when the political campaign will be different and focus on the issues troubling — and in some cases bankrupting — some Americans. This will be yet one more ugly, divisive campaign whose winner will be the person who is able to best negatively define the other in ways where negative imagery sticks.

But as the Washington Post notes, part of the problem isn’t just that Obama walked — or some might suggest was directed by foes within the establishment to walk — into this controversy. Part of the problem, the Post reports, is that his aides bungled the initial response. So one issue is the actual event. The other is the Obama campaign’s effectiveness in decisively responding to the charges.

That this is becoming an issue on the Sunday morning shows, newspapers and blogs is further confirmation that Campaign 2008 will be just as personal with key issues playing second fiddle as previous recent Presidential campaigns. And the way in which it’s being used by the McCain campaign indicates the era of Karl Rove-style politics is far from over. There has nuances, but you’d never know it by the way it’s being played in the ad and by partisans.

Here’s the Post’s background summary:

Sen. John McCain lashed out at his Democratic rival in a tough new television ad Saturday, accusing him of “going to the gym” while in Germany instead of visiting wounded soldiers, and of doing so because the hospitals would not let television cameras film the visits.

The Republican senator also repeats the charge in an interview to be aired Sunday morning, saying on ABC’s “This Week” that “if I had been told by the Pentagon that I couldn’t visit those troops, and I was there and wanted to be there, I guarantee you, there would have been a seismic event.”

So if Obama had ignored the military and gone anyway, or raised a ruckus over visiting them, THAT wouldn’t have become a big campaign issue and generated a McCain campaign ad? If you believe that, I can sell you this for $21.

In the ad, an announcer says: “And now, he made time to go to the gym, but cancelled a visit with wounded troops. Seems the Pentagon wouldn’t allow him to bring cameras. John McCain is always there for our troops. McCain. Country first.”

The ad, which the campaign said would air in “key” states, was created quickly to seize on a controversy just days old. During his trip to Germany, Obama was scheduled to visit the American hospitals at Ramstein and Landstuhl, but cancelled the trips after being told by Pentagon officials that he could only visit in his official capacity as a senator, not as a candidate.

Was it a trap? As NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reported, Obama visited troops in Afghanistan and at Walter Reed Hospital without the press with no problems from the military.

But in this case the Pentagon seemingly took a much harder line. Read this and this. Despite what the McCain ad says, from these reports the issue is not just that Obama didn’t visit the troops because the Pentagon wouldn’t allow cameras — but it could be and is being portrayed in the ad as being what happened.

Here’s the lead from the New York Daily News:

Barack Obama skipped a visit to injured troops in Germany to avoid stirring a political controversy – but he got one anyway.

Obama said he had planned to visit U.S. soldiers at the Army’s Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, but settled for a phone call when military officials said bringing the campaign’s military adviser, retired Maj. Gen. Scott Gration, would be seen as a “political” move, which is not allowed.

“That triggered then a concern that maybe our visit was going to be perceived as political,” Obama said. “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 a political controversy, of some sort, what we decided was that we would not make a visit.”

ABC’s Jake Tapper:

Obama told me earlier today that the trip was canceled because of “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.”

McCain’s ad asserts that Obama “made time to go to the gym, but cancelled a visit with wounded troops. Seems the Pentagon wouldn’t allow him to bring cameras.”

The McCain campaign provides no evidence for the assertion that being told he couldn’t bring media had anything to do with the trip’s cancellation.

And he adds this update:

UPDATE: Obama campaign spokeswoman Linda Douglass says, “We told military officials explicitly that Senator Obama had absolutely no attention of bringing any members of the media or photographers in with him to visit the wounded warriors. In all of our communications with the military, we stressed that this was to be a private visit by Senator Obama.”

Meanwhile, the Obama campaign responded responded in a predictable way.

Obama campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor said Obama and McCain both believed that troops should be honored and noted that Obama had visited troops in Iraq and Afghanistan last week and had made numerous trips to Washington’s Walter Reed Army Medical Center. ”Senator McCain knows full well that Senator Obama strongly supports and honors our troops, which is what makes this attack so disingenuous. This politicization of our soldiers is exactly what Senator Obama sought to avoid,” Vietor said.

But it’s clear from this ad, the way this issue is springing up, and how it’s dominating old and new blog coverage that the elections of 2000 and 2004 will be replayed in terms of tone. The focus is on personal issues that are “high concept” so memorable phrases can be communicated (and oversimplified and perhaps distorted) in easy-to-retain 30 second ads. The negative imagery can also then be repeated frequently in the new media and on talk shows by partisans.

The recent entry of Karl Rove proteges and Rove himself as an “informal” campaign adviser is leaving a mark on the McCain campaign that can be seen now in two key McCain charges over the past week. Both are “high concept” charges. First, McCain accused Obama of wanting to lose the Iraq war. And now, in this ad, of not visiting wounded troops because cameras weren’t allowed.

All that’s needed now would be a high concept McCain campaign slogan that can be taken two ways: as a positive for McCain, and a negative if applied to the high concept allegations injected into the race about Obama. the new, short McCain campaign slogan will be used by some for just that: McCain: Country First. (So just who is it that isn’t putting Country First?)

The bottom line: voters who were hoping for a campaign dominated by debate on issues rather than another descent into personality definition politics will have to wait a while. The problem is that Democrats have had leads going into general elections before but when they’ve been successfully branded by Republicans as soft on national security or not caring enough about the military they have often lost. Is the Obama campaign skillful enough to respond, short-circuit and counter these allegations?

The handwriting is not just the wall. The wall is starting to fall on the Democrats. And it’s not even Labor Day yet.

Here’s the ad:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zLO-yXMOzw
UPDATE: The Daily Dish’s Chris Bodenner:

If there were pictures on the wires of him shaking hands with bedridden vets while media vultures crowded around for close-ups, conservatives would have ripped him for it properly and mercilessly and he knows it. Why not stick with the ‘he went to the gym but not the hospital’ point, which is at least factually correct? Why go here?,” – Allahpundit.

I predict these nasty, petty, and desperate attacks will only grow as Obama soars into November. What else does McCain have to run on? It’s the same approach Clinton took after Feb. 5: if I can’t beat him, I’ll drag him down to my level and hope he hits back, besmirching his image as a “new politician.” It wasn’t exactly a winning strategy.

More blog reaction is HERE.

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Copyright 2008 The Moderate Voice
  • Neocon

    Their error? Not going to a hospital but playing basketball. That is the sin. No matter the reason. This is the kind of stuff the left/democrats have thrown at bush for 5 or 6 years. It does not matter the reason. They have spun everything till no one knows what is the truth anymore and in the end all that matters is the perception.

    What goes around comes around. Bush bashing for 7 years followed by Obama bashing for????????? however long hes in office.

  • kryon77

    The claim that Obama wanted to lose the war in Iraq is accurate, because Obama wanted to lose the war in Iraq. In 2006-7, when America was losing in Iraq, Obama advocated the rapid withdrawal of US troops, whatever the consequnces, including genocide. At that time, Obama additionally voted to completely cut off all US funds for the war in Iraq. If that’s not losing, what is?

    Wars are won, or lost, or end in stalemate, as in Korea. But there was no statemate in the offing from a US withdrawal in 2006-7. There was only Iranian-backed insurgents, and Al-Queda backed Sunnis, left to fight for the remaining spoils of a ruined Iraq. Obama knew that, and didn’t care. In the fight for the Democratic nomination, it was politically advantageous for Obama not to care.

    Only magical thinking – the idea that closing one’s eyes and wishing really hard can make bad stuff go away – can cause someone to evade the conclusion Obama wanted to lose the war in Iraq. In the case of Obama and his child-like religious flock, that magical thinking was invested in the metaphysical power of naming, i.e., the infantile idea that if you say “Let us END the war in Iraq,” that phrase would allow the US to avoid the devastating consequences of LOSING the war in Iraq.

  • GeorgeSorwell

    McCain’s audience expects this sort of thing–demands it!

  • JSpencer

    It’s incredibe that so much muddied thinking can be passed off as justification for anything. Let’s see if I have this right: An unjustified war and a sinking economy are balanced off by a trip to the gym? I’m sure this all makes sense in Rove world, where rationalization has become a high art form. By all means, vote for McBush, Obama went to the freakin gym!

  • Neocon

    Nice spin JSpencer.

    Genius. Comparing an unjustified war and a sinking economy to a trip to the gym. Brilliant………….and Bush Bashing without saying so.

    In this case its Obama going to the gym instead of showing compassion for troopers who are injured……….neither your statement not this one is true…….yet the spin makes it so.

    The bizarre thing that I notice from all peoples is that they always believe their spin is the truth, while the other sides is full of lies and innuendos.

  • JSpencer

    Of course Obama would have been damned if he did and damned if he didn’t by his detractors. The spin is still based on your rather fragile rationalization. It’s clear that when it comes to compassion for the troops, Obama is well ahead of the curve – afterall, he voted against giving the prez authorization to send them into the meatgrinder in the first place. Think it through…

  • elrod

    McCain used footage of Obama playing basketball WITH the troops to show that he’s ignoring the troops!

    Not only is the ad a complete and utter lie. It’s a self-parody.

    If McCain wants to go the trash politics route, at least do it right. What a bunch of amateurs.

  • GeorgeSorwell

    Is elrod right–is that shot of Obama playing basketball WITH the troops?

  • runasim

    ” magical thinking – the idea that closing one’s eyes and wishing really hard can make bad stuff go away ”

    This is exactly what characterizes the ‘victory’ crowd. Magical thinking , indeed., for six long agonizing years.
    The only win’ was the unneccessary removal of Saddam. Everything else has been damage control. We are not even talking about winning or losing a war; we are talking about the degree to which we can decrease the unfixable damage we’ve caused by breaking a country, damage to Iraqis, to ourselves, to he region and to the world..

    Even the best possible outcome is not looking so good.
    Every year we’ve been in Iraq
    >has served as a recruiting tool for terrorists..
    > has made us radioactive around much of the region, and now even Pakistan doesn’t want anything to do with us.
    >has empowered Iran, and through it, Hezbollah and Hamas
    >has made Europe distrust the US as to what irresponsible thing we will do next.
    > has resulted in enormours cost in blood and money to both iraq and the US (the US paying the bill on credit)
    >kept our eye off of Afghanistan, while alQaeda and the Taliban were regrouping

    The damage has been cumulative, year by year.
    Now we are in the process of finding the best of the bad conditions under which we can slink out.

    Yes, let’s open our eyes to some hard facts.

  • mikkel

    Perhaps I’m naive but has anyone else noticed an extremely different reaction to these sorts of things this year? Even the people that want to beat Obama seem to like him OK and are trying to argue that it’s his policies that are bad.

    When Hot Air has posts such as this, and Fox news anchors are yelling at each other on air about stepping over the line, I see these sort of tactics as extremely misguided. Especially because the Obama campaign is so good at keeping supporting evidence and refuting charges strongly…it’s like the anti-McCain campaign who tries desperately to downplay the past. All Obama has to do is run an ad pointing out the myriad of times that he visited injured troops without any media attention and point out that even his basketball playing was with troops…as well as have a quote from the military correspondence that more or less said it was their fault. Another loss for McCain.

    If he doesn’t stop making laughable charges (Obama responsible for high gas prices!) instead of focusing a lot more on why his policies will be better for the future, I think it’ll be a blow out.

  • runasim

    When this all started, I knew I could never vote for McCain, but I respected him for several attributes.
    Now I wonder if this vindictive, manipulative, petulant, hit-below-belt McCain was there all along, hiding in plain sight.
    Several comentators have raised the question why the media don’t ask ‘who is McCain’ while they incessantly pose the question about Obama.

    Obama is still trying to maintain a respectful tone in his reposnses to McCain’s dirty politics, but I’m wondering if that will work. If his campaign decides to descend to McCain’s level, it’ll break my heart, but I’m beginning to think that a broken heart may become necessary.
    I’m still hoping, though, that Obama can use the contrast to his advantage, instead.

  • I agree with runasim – McCain is someone I’ve admired, and I’m saddened that he has stooped to this level. I understand that politicians say bad things about their opponents that they know are false in order to score points, but I thought that McCain had more integrity than to basically call someone a troop-hater. As Elrod pointed out, the basketball picture is of Obama playing WITH the troops in Kuwait (video from the military news network: here). Additionally, the canceled visit in Germany was NOT about cameras – it was about a request from the Pentagon not to make a visit that could be viewed as political.

    I’m disappointed in John McCain over this, and sad that there are people who believe it. As the Obama campaign’s statements have said, McCain’s service to America is honorable and to be respected, but the fact that he is using this line of attack is a wholly dishonorable action.

  • Neocon

    afterall, he voted against giving the prez authorization to send them into the meatgrinder in the first place. Think it through…

    NO HE DIDN’T. MORE SPIN.

    He was not even in congress when this happened.

    The SURGE worked. Iraq is stablizing. They are building a country club. The success are without saying. Yet the left will scream LIES…….its all lies. We tortured and we cheated and we lied and Haliburton stole money and Cheney is a con man or whatever.

    The surge worked. Obama has NO judgement and the Press knows it. He is not qualified to be president and we all know that. His resume would get him laughed out of any corporate office yet we want him to lead America.

    HAH. He went to Iraq and got a 3 point bump in his ratings. Everyone in America is looking for reasons not to vote for this guy.

  • StockBoySF

    To stoop to this level shows how desperate McCain feels in his race against Obama.

  • Neocon

    Yeah people fergit how the Clintons were destroyed by the Obama crowd in the primary for stooping to implying that some of the greatest advocates of the Black people were racists.

    Obama is only taking the higher road because hes in the lead. AS the polls close we will see how high his campaign remains when desperation sets in.

  • Ricorun

    On Face the Nation this morning, Reed and Hagel weighed in on the visit kerfuffle. Here’s the transcript.” Basically, they both said Obama made the correct decision and gave McCain a hard time for the way he’s portraying it.

  • daveinboca

    Obama is going to start to receive as much flak & nasty innuendo as GWB did rapidly. This guy is a bit too high-falutin’ to avoid getting characterized as another pretty-boy Kerry who makes silly mistakes [uncle at Auschwitz, 57 states, 8-10 years as POTUS], and now he at least appears ready to take short cuts rather than the correct choices such as visiting the wounded troops in Germany without a photo-op moment.

    Obama is simply too full of himself & if McCain can muster up the energy, the hordes in “flyover country” will finally get the picture.

    And the SURGE worked, Obama, despite your extensive and ridiculous attempts to say it didn’t. Just admit you were wrong about that & take the hit.

    What a gasbag!

  • Neocon: “The surge worked. Obama has NO judgement and the Press knows it. He is not qualified to be president and we all know that. His resume would get him laughed out of any corporate office yet we want him to lead America.”

    There is an argument to be made on these points (although I disagree with your conclusions), so THAT is what McCain’s ads should be pushing. The fact that in this ad he is making up facts to falsely attack Obama is the issue being discussed in this thread, and it’s one that puts McCain in a very, very bad light.

    Assertions from the ad: Obama went to the gym (untrue – was playing basketball with troops) instead of visiting injured troops (untrue – basketball was in Kuwait, the canceled visit was in Germany) because the Pentagon wouldn’t let him bring cameras (untrue – cameras weren’t going to come along anyhow) .

  • mikkel

    Not to interject with actual facts, but Obama never opposed the surge because he thought that the military couldn’t bring violence down (although he has admitted that it has decreased far more than he anticipated) but that he thought the political situation was intractable.

    Hey look the surge isn’t working…so says, uh, Maliki…because even though the violence is down, the political situation that was causing the violence has not been resolved and there is no end in sight. Heck, I said long before the surge that Al Qaeda was operating at the mercy of the Anbar tribes and once they got fed up that Al Qaeda would be all but wiped out (this has long been an argument of the pro-withdrawal camp, that the only group that has to do with our security would be handled internally)…and the Awakening started months before the surge (not to mention that those groups are still just intent on taking on the central government when they have the opportunity). And Al Sadr stood down because he correctly ascertained that it makes more sense for him to use the new found legitimacy of the government to his advantage by playing political games.

    And the Kurds just walked out of parliament because they don’t want new elections.

    And one word: Kirkuk.

    So uh basically all the benefits that most surge opponents said could happen did (and admittedly surprisingly strongly) while everything they said would not be resolved haven’t…..and the Prime Minister and other leaders of the groups all say as much. So uh how was Obama wrong?

    That’s what he meant when he said he would still oppose the surge if he knew it would turn out like it has, because he feels (and the evidence strongly supports him) that Iraq will literally need decades before it can be stable politically…which is why when McCain was honest about this it was surprisingly refreshing although I think it’ll get very little support. Also the violence will increase if we commit to that.

  • I agree with most of what mikkel says, although it also seems that a significant amount of credit for the reduction of sectarian violence in Baghdad goes to Petraeus – by re-deploying troops out of the green zone and into neighborhoods they were able to fill the role that the Iraqi police force was supposed to fill, providing some semblance of security to the local population. Aside from that, however, it does seem that the majority of the reduction in violence was due to the Anbar awakening and al Sadr calling off his militia – both of which started well before the troop surge.

    • mikkel

      No Ryan I agree fully with the caveat that if there was not the other events then Petraeus would have not had the leeway to carry out his strategy. The truth of the matter is that there is violence from organized “offensives” and then from “gangs of criminals” (what the Iraqis call violence that is not overtly organized, whether it’s kidnappings/random shootings/anything done by the Badr Brigades) that the Iraqis had to live with day to day and was much more overwhelming than the Sadr uprisings or bombing campaigns.

      From what I’ve read the surge was very successful in that it got troops out into all those neighborhoods and made them much more secure, although a lot of the soldiers point out that they know that the local police and such are in league with all the militias and are just lying low. So in that way I think Petraeus deserves a ton of credit for cracking down on the complete chaos in the country.

      Although all the groups — Sunni “insurgents”, Sadr’s army and the Badr Brigades — were starting to see a lot of corruption and losing good portions of their forces to petty criminality and psychotic revenge. It was actually in their best interest to have the US come in and help get rid of all the fringe elements so the main players could reassert control.

  • What a surprise. McCain is down in the muck with his friend Karl Rove.

    This style of campaigning on bald faced lies about patriotism must be repudiated. And I’m ashamed there are any Americans that have chosen to defend such spurious charges. **Looks around the forum**

  • Neocon

    Whats in question is that the Obama campaign cant even respond themselves. They have to call on John “The troops suck” Murtha to defend him. “Harry “The war is Lost” Reid to defend Barak Obama from false allegations.

    Barak Obama is cute. Hes too “cluck, cluck” to even fight his own battles. He has to stay above the fray so he sends out his minions to do it for him.

    New Name. Barak “The Godfather” Obama. Give them an offer they cant refuse.

    Like I said the press is after Obama cause they know he is not capable of being president and they are trying to wise us all up before its too late.

  • rudi

    Partisan hacks on both sides are taking this out of context. Obama did visit troops, even those injured, while in Afghanistan while on the Senate version of his junket. The Germany portion was funded strictly by CAMPAIGN funds. Why didn’t the Pentagon say anything in Afghanistan?
    http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D920T3B81&show_article=1
    http://blogs.reuters.com/trail08/2008/07/25/obama-cancels-plan-to-visit-troops-in-germany/

    http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D920T3B81&show_article=1
    http://blogs.reuters.com/trail08/2008/07/25/obama-cancels-plan-to-visit-troops-in-germany/

    “Senator Obama did not want to have a trip to see our wounded warriors perceived as a campaign event,” Gration said.

    The visit to Landstuhl had not been officially announced but Obama’s campaign acknowledged it had been planned after Republicans criticized Obama for canceling the visit.

    Senior Obama aide Robert Gibbs noted that the Illinois senator had visited troops during the earlier part of his foreign tour in Iraq and Afghanistan, including a stop at a combat support hospital in the Green Zone in Baghdad.

    I find it interesting that a Reason(able) site doesn’t wallow in the SHIT.
    http://www.reason.com/
    But does have this interesting piece.
    http://www.reason.com/news/show/127715.html

    Should We Stay or Should We Go?

    Making sense of John McCain’s confusion on Iraq

    Steve Chapman | July 24, 2008
    If there is any fixed position in John McCain’s policy agenda, it’s that we must never, ever, set a timetable for leaving Iraq. He regularly flogs Barack Obama for proposing to withdraw by the summer of 2010. So it was a surprise to hear him say Monday, when asked if our troops might depart in the next two years, “Oh, I think they could be largely withdrawn, as I’ve said.”

  • pacatrue

    I haven’t read all comments, but I want to go on record as saying this ad pushes me away from McCain. It’s a manufactured issue of an only slightly debatable decision. McCain has far more positive things about him and his career and doesn’t need to manufacture crap like this. I realize that there was only a 25% chance I would vote for McCain before and now there’s only a 10% chance.

  • JSpencer

    Chris is right about McCain getting down in the muck. The GOP seems to have learned nothing from the past 8 years if they are unwilling to separate themselves from the Rove tactics. Those who run interference for these tactics are equally shameless (or clueless, or hopelessly partisan) and the fact is, America has suffered greatly because of it. Would I rather have a president who is still in the process of gaining experience than someone who has a great deal of it – and has learned little from it? In a heartbeat.

  • StockBoySF

    Obama has said the surge is reducing the violence in Iraq, but isn’t working because the political goals, the real purpose of the surge as Bush said when making a case for it back in Jan. 2007, are not being met. Though I think in the past few days there is some good headway made with respect to some of the political goals that Bush would like to see met.

  • Neocon

    Well its no doubt that the surge isnt working. I mean if it was that would mean Obama is the nitwit everyone including the MSM and cable (except msnbc) knows, and is trying to prove that he is.

    Yep We all know that the surge is a total failure. If it wasnt that would call into question Barak Obama’s judgment. Just like his judgment on who he has surrounding him. 300 Advisors?

    Are you guys kidding

    300 advisors?

    He Can’t think for himself?

    Nope guess not.

    • sedonakaren

      I think McBush could use a few more advisors. When one resorts to such dirty politics, it kinda suggests he’s LOSING.

  • sedonakaren

    It is obvious to nearly all that no matter WHAT Senator Obama did concerning his trip to the Middle East and Europe, he would have been slammed by McBush. First he was goaded into going. Then slammed for going! NOW he’s being criticized for being successful and making no mistakes while there!

    WHOA Johnnie! You’re looking crankier and more desperate every day!

  • sedonakaren

    For you McBush fans: Try to picture Johnnie and Barack standing side by side trying to explain their policies as far as a timed withdrawal in Iraq.

    Tall, handsome, charismatic and intelligent Barack explains his vision (which Bush, Al Maliki and now even MCBUSH have acknowledged is the best plan), and
    then picture a little old man with one puffy cheek who acts very tough and cocky and thinks he’s a National Security know-it-all, but has gone from 100 years, to 2013, to 16 months!”

    In addition, I don’t see Mr. “Know-it-all” criticizing Obama’s statement that AFGHANISTAN, not Iraq, is the CENTRAL FRONT ON the war on TERROR. So let me ask Mr. McBush:

    THEN WHY have we been spending what is now 12-1/2 billion dollars a month in another country????????????????????????? Ya got me! Let’s get our tookies out of there as soon as we can safely do it.

    If you want to call it “winning,” then call it that, if you feel better, Johnnie. In my opinion, NOBODY EVER “WINS” where war is concerned. A “win” is when you can avoid one!

  • Neocon

    Clever McBush. McClown.

    I see the name calling is ramping up. Pretty soon John McCain will be Oberfuhrer, Mein Fuhrer.

  • Ricorun

    Neocon now: I see the name calling is ramping up.

    Neocon earlier: John “The troops suck” Murtha. Harry “The war is Lost” Reid

  • runasim

    There was a woman of Iraqi descent on CNN this morning who said that her family and friends, who live in Iraq, don’t believe the surge reduced the violence nearly as much as the people themselves did. They had simply had enough and turned on those who instigate it, even if it meant informing on members of their own sect.

    I don’t know that it matters so much at this stage to determine exactly what percent of the credit goes to the surge, what percent to Petraeus, and what percent to the Iraqi people. The war wasn’t about reducing violence, in the first place.

    What does matter is that McCain chose to use a difference of opinion as an excuse to slime Obama’s motives and character. It’s odd how much the Republlicans carry on about values and character, but when the going gets tough, people like mcCain are the fiirst to get down in the mud and wallow.

    If this is what McCain and his loyal defenders mean by values and character, I say ‘no, thanks’.
    I sure don’t want someone with this temperament answering the red phone at three in the morning, or at any time. He’s liable to push the button in a fit of pique, because he wasn’t getting enough attention.

  • Neocon

    CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Let me ask you Mr. Murtha to give us some details about that. Draw us a picture of what happened at Haditha.

    REP. JOHN “JACK” MURTHA: Well, I’ll tell you exactly what happened. One Marine was killed and the Marines just said we’re going to take care – we don’t know who the enemy is, the pressure was too much on them, so they went into houses and they actually killed civilians. And, and –

    MATTHEWS:—was this My Lai? Was this a case of – when you say cold blood Congressman, a lot of people think you’re basically saying you got some civilians sitting in a room around a field and they’re executed.

    MURTHA: That’s exactly it.

    Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood.

    “I believe … that this war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything, as is shown by the extreme violence in Iraq this week,” Reid told journalists.

    They named themselves.

  • Neocon

    What I find particulary sad in all this discussion is that thru it all those defending Obama never even really seem to grasp the problem with being seen at a gymnasium shooting hoops while on a fact finding tour in the Middle east an area in which you (Obama) has repeatedly suggested its a losing cause, we must baby sit a civil war, the war is lost, our troops suck (Murtha) etc. etc.

    Don’t you find it ironical that in a country supposedly wracked by violence and death and destruction that Obama would find time to shoot hoops. Even though this was in Kuwait. That is not important.

    Whats lost in the translation is that the war is lost, we should pull out, there is no reason to be in this country. People are dying. Its a hell hole and all the other bad things that are said about the middle east and Iraq in particular and here is the President elect Barak Obama shooting hoops in a gymnasium.

    And he wasn’t even wearing a flack jacket. Don’t you find this just a tad bit unsettling? No I suppose you don’t. Well many Americans will and the ad was pure genius in its simplicity.

    Barak Obama and his great judgment that this area is so dangerous that our troops should be removed would find time to play Basketball. His handlers once again shot him in the foot and they don’t even realize it yet.

    .

    It’s all about perceptions. Not facts. Ever.

  • Ricorun

    They named themselves.

    Okay, I get it now… It’s okay to say stuff like John “I’d rather lie than lose a campaign” McCain, or “Dr” Phil “whiner nation” Gramm, or Carly “incompetence is good” Fiorina, because they named themselves — just pick the most objectionable thing they ever said or did and there ya go.

    It’s all about perceptions. Not facts. Ever.

    How Rovian. You do realize that you’ve just destroyed your own credibility, right? If you don’t care about facts, why should anyone believe you?

    Yes perceptions are important. But if you have to butcher the facts to obtain the desired perception too many times, sooner or later people are going to catch on. Well maybe not everyone. But if too many do you’re dead.

  • Neocon

    My credibility at this site has been gone the day I said I was opposed to Barak Obama. Today my disqus took a 17 point hit because I chose to say negative things about Barak Obama. This site’s commenters are about 95 percent Barak Obama Obamaholics.

    I know when I swim in these waters that its full of sharks. But its actually sort of entertaining knowing that people are googling their brains out trying to refute things I say and that is what makes me such an important cog in the commenters spoke here. I am like Rush Limbaugh. I task them with half my brain tied behind my back having more fun then the law should allow.

    Advertising is always about perception. It is rarely about facts. Does Crest really whiten more then colgate?

    What it said is “HE made time to go to the gym BUT canceled a trip to visit the wounded troops.” No where does this add steer away from the truth.

    The truth is that he did in fact make time to go to the gym and he did in fact cancel a visit with the wounded troops. The perception is that he cares more about basketball then he does the wounded troops. Thats not a lie. Thats a perception.

    How Rovian. You do realize that you’ve just destroyed your own credibility, right? If you don’t care about facts, why should anyone believe you?

    The truth is that if you listen to the add over and over you cannot find any lies and in fact everything in this add is the truth. That is the point that I have been trying to make from the very first post in this topic but my superior intellect is beyond the mortal man.

  • Neocon

    Okay, I get it now… It’s okay to say stuff like John “I’d rather lie than lose a campaign” McCain, or “Dr” Phil “whiner nation” Gramm, or Carly “incompetence is good” Fiorina,

    Too long…..you need to shorten them up some so that they imply something specific and stick.

    Like Barak “John Wayne” Obama.

    See the left just dispensed with making it fun and did things like Shrub. Dubya. Emperor Bush, King George. Now its on to McClown and McBush. I like mine much better…..they are more creative and have much more room for being adjusted to your own thought process.

  • kryon77

    Runasim,

    Thanks for your fact-based reply.

    One the logistical difficulties with these threads is that participants are on different time-frames, so I don’t know if I’m talking to myself or if you see this, but in any event…

    I think you do point out some of the substantial costs of our engagement in Iraq, but the pertinent response is…compared to what? Because the failure to act comes with costs too. And our decision to act has brought the substantial benefit of helping to establish a stable, peaceful country in place of what was once an international menace.

    There never was the possibility of a peaceful, non-threatening Iraqi regime without American intervention. If we had not intervened, an emboldened Hussein, or one of his psychotic sons – propped up by high oil prices – would continue a rolling genocide against opposing groups within Iraq, and threaten neighboring countries (and non-neighboring countries) with, yes, weapons of mass destruction.

    I understand that this last assertion may produce high mirth among those who disagree, but I call your attention to the Duelfer Report (official name: Iraq Survey Group Final Report) which pointed out that the sanctions regime against Hussein was rapidly breaking down, and that Hussein had the both the means (chiefly: the brains of scientists at his disposal) and the intention of re-starting his weapons programs once the world turned its attention elsewhere.

    I’d personally argue that the basic factors of a) Hussein’s past history of use of WMD, b) Intention, c) Opportunity show that the Hussein regime was an international menace, such that we could not just leave the matter alone and hope for the best. I’d also argue that, going forward, a sovereign and stable Iraq, adopting their own version of democracy, shaped by their own cultural institutions, will be emulated by other countries in the Mid-east, thus pacifying the region generally.

    The Iraq Survey Group Final Report is a joint product of the Pentagon and the CIA, and the later entity – as anyone who has followed the news in recent years knows – is hardly a toady or handmaiden of the Bush Administration. Charles Dulpher, the author of the report, was the “Special Advisor to the Director of Central Intelligence on Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction.”

    For anyone interested, here’s a link to the CIA release of the Iraq Survey Group Final Report:

    https://www.cia.gov/library/reports/general-reports-1/iraq_wmd_2004/index.html

    Here’s the Wikipedia entry on the Iraq Survey Group, which in my opinion is mostly pretty good:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_Survey_Group

    And if anyone is actually reading this: Happy Monday morning!

  • Neocon

    Kryon77

    No one here is interested in facts or figures when it comes to Iraq. Nearly all the commenters are far left antiwar types who only get their jollies calling bush and cheney names.

    They despise being in Iraq and yet want to escalate Afghanistan because their bizarre reasoning is that somehow blowing up stuff in Afghanistan is in their minds justified. That makes for a powerful force.

    The right justified Iraq and so it was to be.

    They have no definition of victory in Afghanistan. They only want to kill stuff and blow stuff up over there.

    They have no idea how much it will cost or who will pay for it. They just want their turn to kill stuff and blow stuff up.

    They have no idea what the mission is in Afghanistan. They just want to kill stuff and blow stuff up.

    And in the end. More people will die. Barak Obama will get a bit more cooperation out of Nato and in the end more and more people will be homeless and without shelter all for a Justifiable war. Because a man named OBL killed Americans we then must exact our retribution upon women and children 12,000 miles away who had nothing to do with it and dont even know who OBL is.

    I guess that would be like China Invading America to kill the Bloods or the Krypts in LA because they blew up Tianamen square. Once they killed a few of them they then blow up cities in Nevada and Arizona because people their are pissed that China is blowing stuff up IN LA.

    Where does it stop. These war mongers even want to go after Pakistan. Why stop with Pakistan. Lets get the bums in China too and Chechnya.

  • JSpencer

    Kryon, your scenario could have been posted by any early proponent of Bush’s war, and even some who continued trying to justify it after it went south. It’s all old and rehashed news. As you yourself say, “participants are on different time-frames”, to which I would only add, they are also balancing their judgements on a different set of facts and realities – some cherry-picked and looked at in isolation, and others taken with a view to the larger picture. Was Saddam a bad person? Sure he was, one of many in the world. Is it our role to be the world’s police force and start wars with every 2 bit dictator who oppresses his people? Some might actually believe that should be the primary role of the USA in the 21st century, but many of us see it as backward and destabilizing… to put it mildly. And Happy Monday morning to you too!

  • JSpencer

    Neocon: “I know when I swim in these waters that its full of sharks.”

    Sharks? 🙂 I see a group of mostly interested and engaged people who for the most part are perceptive, have interesting opinions, and are remarkably patient with those few whose main purpose here is the seeking of attention.

  • SteveK

    It will be O.K. Neo “goodbye cruel world” con just hang on to your sharp appreciation for good entertainment.

  • DLS

    “Is it our role to be the world’s police force and start wars with every 2 bit dictator who oppresses his people? Some might actually believe that should be the primary role of the USA in the 21st century, but many of us see it as backward and destabilizing… to put it mildly.”

    I’ll remember that the next time there’s more wailing about Darfur or when someone actually wants to justify our little adventure in Haiti on behalf of a beloved left-wing president there.

  • DLS

    “I’d personally argue that the basic factors of a) Hussein’s past history of use of WMD, b) Intention, c) Opportunity show that the Hussein regime was an international menace, such that we could not just leave the matter alone and hope for the best.”

    Of course we couldn’t. And the few who were instinctively against doing anything about it (because it would constitute a US and Western success) would have been the first and loudest complainers had Hussein or his sons attacked their neighbors again, etc.

  • DLS

    “vote for McBush”

    The Big Lie only fools the most easily fooled in this world.

    On a more sane note:

    “it kinda suggests he’s LOSING”

    And not learning from his mistakes, and correcting them, unlike Obama.

  • Neocon

    Ohh I like that one stevek………..good job.

    Now your getting the hang of it. Its so much better then shrub, or dubya.

    and are remarkably patient with those few whose main purpose here is the seeking of attention.

    And you prove the point I was making about this add.

    Its ALL ABOUT PERCEPTION.

    Also let us not forget that Saddam Hussein was sending a $25,000 dollar a year stipend to those families of marytrs who blew themselves up in Israel thus fueling the the expansion of bloodshed in Israel and Palestine which quickly stopped once Saddam was removed from power.

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