This past week most of the national news was focused on a huge international trip by presumptive Democratic Nominee Senator Barack Obama. It is interesting that this trip didn’t seem to be very high on the list of the candidate were it not for the constant peppering by Republican rival Senator John McCain. McCain should be careful what he wishes for, as Obama made a wildly successful trip to almost a dozen separate countries with relatively few hiccups – and as he returns to the US he is greeted with new polls by the Associated Press showing him 9 point ahead of the Republican perennial candidate.
I suppose this story started even before Obama had cemented the number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination. McCain started attacking Obama on his stances with regards to Iraq and specifically pointing out that he should go to Iraq and see the wonderful things that have been happening on the ground. McCain taunted him for over two weeks on this issue seemingly at every chance he got in front of a microphone. He should have known better, really.
One has to expect if Obama was going to travel overseas that he would make stops in Europe as well as the war torn Middle East. There he would obviously be greeted by thousands (Hundreds of Thousands as it appears…) and that would be a huge net positive. This would clearly depict Obama as a World Leader and clearly the American people – those who have yet to fall for his charms – are starting to agree as we have seen with the poll numbers that have been coming in over the last 24 hours.
You don’t have to take my word for it – Senator Chuck Hagel, strong republican and a bit of a maverick in his own right and it appears he used to be quite close to McCain. However it appears those feelings are drifting a bit. Hagel went on to several National News programs this weekend, having traveled with Obama and the Congressional team on the first leg of the trip through the middle east, to talk about his experiences and give his thoughts. They were quite positive in Obama’s favor.
Now, the GOP and McCain have swooped in to criticize Obama for not making a visit to Landstuhl – This is the FIRST of the swift boat ads in my opinion.
So here is the real story. In planning out this trip and as things were getting closer to the European leg of his trip, the Obama team and the Pentagon staff were talking about any foreseeable issues. It is completely untrue that Obama wanted to bring cameras in as the McCain ad suggests. The real story is that while the first part of the trip was part of a congressional delegation and paid for by the congressional budget – the second part of the trip that took Obama into Germany, France and Great Brittan was being paid for by the campaign. Therefore no matter what choice he made he was caught. Go to visit the troops without staff, only with secret server – we know the photos would get out – heck the troops would want to have their photos taken with the Senator. Then the headlines would read “On Political Trip Obama pauses for Photo Op with Wounded Troops.” And if he didn’t go, well we see what they are doing now. It is quite shameful… and again, don’t take my words for it – take John McCain’s own words…
Senator McCain in 2007: “How can we possibly find honor in using the fate of our servicemen to score political advantage in Washington? There is no pride to be had in such efforts. We are at war, a hard and challenging war, and we do no service for the best of us-those who fight and risk all on our behalf-by playing politics with their service.” [Congressional Record, 5/24/07]
I also have a huge problem with the other allegations that are made in this ad such as “he voted against funding our troops” – This is just borderline crazy. In fact, this is an attack that was used on Hillary Clinton during the primary and it was clearly shown that Obama voted to keep funding our troops while pushing for a reasonable time table.
But lets reverse this a bit – John McCain as refused to support the New GI Bill which would take care of our men and women when they return from duty by paying for them to go to a state college or university. McCain doesn’t support this. In fact Republicans have led the efforts to block substantial pay raises and benefit increases to all of our troops. It is sad really.
Our Men and Women in uniform are catching on – they are not falling for these ads. I have spoken with many service members both on and off active duty and most of them are reporting a large democratic swing in their ranks. Many “lifers” that I have spoken with have seen this change happening over the past 8 years. One Louisiana service member told me that he was at a Town Hall meeting in Opelousas where David Vitter defended his stance against fully funding the VA system, this at a time where more and more women were returning broken and in need of mending. This is when he said – that he could no longer blindly follow in the republican footsteps as his father did.
The sea is turning – frankly I am quite ashamed that McCain is so desperate for headlines that he would use his own money to pay for an ad like this that stinks of swift boating. The scary part is, I think this is only the beginning.
IN other news…
Senator Mary Landrieu continues to pick up steam with now over 70 of our Mayors in Louisiana now endorsing her re-election. It’s a good thing too especially out here in the 7th Congressional District. I spoke with several of our Mayors and City and Parish Council members and many of them have told me that they have had the door slammed in their face over the last year by Congressman Boustany as he is refusing to even listen to their needs if it could come close to including an earmark. I asked them how they are dealing with this huge shift and they said… “well we are over-working Landrieu’s team” – that is right. Boustany is refusing to do his job as a US Congressman by looking for and securing much needed funds to improve infrastructure here in the 7th Congressional District – (a district mind you that is solely affected by what he dubbed “Rita Amnesia”). So Senator Landrieu and her dedicated team come through yet again for many of these municipalities looking high and low to try to find the funds needed to recover & rebuild and to look towards a brighter future.
Not to be left out – our own State Senator Don Cravins passed a HUGE hoop this past week as his campaign was elevated into an “Emerging Race” in their eyes. They clearly see Don as a very capable and more in touch candidate than the good Doctor. Don is successfully working the district meeting with party leaders, business leaders and civic organizers on a daily basis. He is putting together quite an outstanding team here on the ground as well and I am very impressed with all they have done thus far. “I’m with Junior!”
Finally, in a “WHAT THE?” moment… This past week Lord Boustany sent out an e-mail piece (mind you this is clearly a campaign piece yet his congressional staff sent it out via his congressional website!) that claims his support for LaCHIP - ?? REALLY? Then why did he vote against this no less than 4 times? Boustany has clearly been against this program clearly for the last year voting against it each and every time it has come up… yet now he and his congressional staff send out this propaganda piece? This isn’t the first time that the good doctor has employed such tactics. Two years ago in much the same form he then took to our mail boxes (on taxpayer money) to tell us what a great job he was doing. The senate has rules that prevent this – however Boustany with his first official votes in congress being to weaken the Congresses ethics committee it should be no surprise. Again, you don’t have to take my word for it… here are his votes:
On January 23, 2008, he voted to sustain the President’s veto of bipartisan children's health care legislation [H.R. 3963, #22, 1/23/08], on October 25, 2007, he opposed the bipartisan compromise on State Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act [HR 3963, Vote #1009, 10/25/07], On October 18, 2007, he voted to sustain the President’s veto of the bipartisan SCHIP bill [HR 976, Vote #982, 10/18/07], On September 25, 2007, he opposed the State Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act [HR 976, Vote #906, 9/25/07]
More next week, good friends! Note if you would like to get involved in this years historic election cycle drop me an e-mail or visit www.LafayetteDemocrats.org for additional information.