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Friday, July 25, 2008
"During his trip as part of the CODEL to Afghanistan and Iraq, Senator Obama visited the combat support hospital in the Green Zone in Baghdad and had a number of other visits with the troops," Obama strategist Robert Gibbs said in a 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."So he spurned the troops because he couldn't advertise himself. What a great president he'll make.
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The official said "We didn't know why" the request to visit the wounded troops was withdrawn.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."
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Yikes, it's been a month since I last posted. It seems like only a few days, but since I've been traveling a lot for work, the time has flown by.
Today, Melanie Phillips wrote an outstanding piece on the vacuous nature of Barack Obama's candidacy; at least, compared to the praise he is receiving.
There’s been nothing like it since Beatlemania. As the Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama arrives in Britain tomorrow on the last leg of his world tour, Obamania seems to be sweeping across the Atlantic and carrying all before it.
In giant rallies across the U.S., Obama induces hysteria among his adoring multitude, with women fainting from the effects of his soaring oratory and rock-star charisma.
On both sides of the Atlantic the media are swooning over him. Like Berlin and Paris, he is expected to receive a rapturous reception here.
The U.S. election may not take place until November, but in Europe Obama has already won by a landslide.
Nor does he do anything to disabuse people of the view that he is ‘the One’. He is going to win the war in Iraq. He’s going to break the deadlock in the Middle East.
In the U.S., he declared his presidency would be seen as ‘the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal’.
Doubtless as the water recedes he will walk on it. His tour is supposed to be merely a fact-finding exercise for an election candidate — but it is being treated as a cross between a coronation and the Second Coming.
So at the risk of being a party pooper, may I pose the question: might not a junior senator with less than four years’ experience on Capitol Hill be advised to show just a smidgen of humility?
Significantly, on his first foreign foray he has achieved the feat of upsetting one of his country’s key allies, the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel.
She took a decidedly dim view of his intention to hold an electioneering rally today at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate — traditionally used as a backdrop only for non-partisan speeches of global significance. Faced with this rebuff, Obama chose the city’s Victory Column as an alternative venue.
How darkly ironic that the column was moved to its present position by Adolf Hitler as a symbol of Germany’s superiority and its victories against Denmark, Austria and France. Oh, dear. Is this what Obama means by ‘change we can believe in’?
Of course, in many respects the enthusiasm for this charismatic man is understandable.
Obama preaches a seductive message of change for an America which is terminally disaffected with President Bush — not just over the Iraq war, but over the handling of such catastrophes as Hurricane Katrina and, above all, the dive in the U.S. economy.
All this spells failure, depression and cynicism. Obama by contrast embodies success, optimism and idealism.
Americans are, after all, the most optimistic of people. They just don’t do doom and gloom. So a politician who tells them ‘Yes we can’, and says he stands for ‘the audacity of hope’ gets them whooping and hollering for more.
But such Obamania should worry us all, for it is based on emotion and, where the Democrat candidate is concerned, the normal faculties of judgment appear to have been suspended.
Important questions about Obama’s judgment, consistency and honesty are not being asked, let alone answered.
He has got away with the fact that for 20 years he belonged to a church which preaches black power racism against white people.
He disavowed his long-time mentor, pastor Jeremiah Wright, only when his extreme views could no longer be ignored — despite the fact that Wright is a supporter of Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the black power Nation of Islam.
The media brush all this aside as ‘personal details’ which are of no interest to voters. But if, say, John McCain’s pastor and mentor had turned out to support the Ku Klux Klan and his church was found to be sympathetic to its philosophy, his candidacy would have been defenestrated and rightly so.
Equally troubling is the way Obama has flip-flopped on issue after issue. From his brief Senate voting record, he appears to be the most Left-wing presidential candidate America has ever had.
Yet once he clinched the nomination, he repositioned himself as a Centrist to win the election.
So while once he was for a ban on handguns, he is now against it. Once for safeguards on wiretaps, he is now against them.
Once he was for a fixed timetable for withdrawal from Iraq — but now that the acclaimed U.S. commander General Petraeus has said this would be deeply unwise, Obama claims he proposes no ‘rigid’ adherence to a timetable. This is just more of the same old politics of dissembling.
What is even more disturbing, however, is that these matters are being brushed aside or ignored –because so many people want desperately to believe in him.
Such a suspension of disbelief calls to mind someone else closer to home: Princess Diana, who also inspired hysterical adoration because she, too, became an icon of idealism — challenging the established order.
A deeply attractive figure, she seemed to embody hope for a better universe by appealing to emotion rather than reason.
It was, of course, all pure fantasy. People had fallen for a carefully spun image which bore little relation to the manipulative and unstable woman who was the real Diana, but which spoke to something deep inside them.
So it is with Obama. Americans’ natural optimism makes them want to believe that, as a black man with a Muslim background (another thing he has cleverly obfuscated), he can heal all wounds, including the U.S.’s history of racism, and bring peace to the world just by being who he is.
They see in his attractiveness a flattering reflection of themselves. He doesn’t embarrass them; he makes them feel proud.
He is not a Texas oilman who can’t string a sentence together: he has oratorical skills to die for.
He is not old, frail and nondescript like McCain, but young, vigorous and attractive. He is, in short, everything they want America — and themselves — to be.
His very incoherence over policy, the fact we don’t know what he really believes in, enables people to project onto him their hopes and desires. He is the perfect fantasy politician. He is America’s very own Princess Obama.
But, of course, the belief that a handsome prince can magic away the troubles of the world is infantile. The idea that there is a new kind of sanitised politics by which problems can be solved without having to make hard choices is a dangerous delusion.
To be fair, there are signs that light may be beginning to dawn in America. Despite — or perhaps because of — the saturation media coverage of Obama’s world tour, his poll numbers are showing no bounce.
This may be because people are beginning to see the media manipulation, with Obama refusing to answer journalists’ questions and participating only in ‘faked’ interviews by the military in Iraq.
While America may be wising up, however, Britain is about to have its Princess Obama moment. Get out the smelling salts and prepare to swoon.