Critic: Obama snubbed wounded soldiers

07/30/08 Mitch E. Perry.
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Barack Obama’s weeklong trip to the Middle East and Europe has played to mostly positive reviews in the U.S. and world press.

But when Obama canceled a visit with wounded troops in Germany at the end of the trip, the John McCain campaign gambled that they could make political hay with that.

They’ve produced a television ad that says that while in Germany, Obama "made time to go to the gym but canceled a visit with wounded troops. Seems the Pentagon wouldn't allow him to bring cameras." The commercial shows Obama shooting a basketball, an event that happened earlier in the trip on a stopover in Kuwait, where the Democrat spoke to troops in a gym before grabbing a ball and taking a single shot. The military released the video footage.

The Washington Post reports, the essence of McCain's allegation is that Obama planned to take a media entourage to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and that he canceled the visit when he learned he could not take the media.

But the Post reports today that there is no evidence that he planned to take anyone to the American hospital other than a military adviser, whose status as a campaign staff member sparked last-minute concern among Pentagon officials that the visit would be an improper political event.

Danny Jazarevic was the Commander of Landstuhl Hospital in Germany and the head trauma surgeon there from 2002 to 2006. Now living in Stuart, Florida, he’s running as a Republican for a State House in District 81. He says media advisor or not, Obama should have visited the troops.

Obama did visit a combat hospital in Iraq without any news reporters following him. Today the New York Times criticized McCain’s attacks on Obama, saying such antics have been adopted "wholeheartedly from Karl Rove’s low-minded and uncivil playbook."

More than 4,000 men and women from the U.S. armed forces have been killed in Iraq. That number would be significantly higher if not for the training, more advanced equipment and aeromedical evacuation procedures that have been improved to save the troops.

The New Yorker magazine journalist and surgeon Atul Gawande has studied and written about how the U.S. military has increased survival rates of combat injured soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and says U.S. healthcare providers could learn how military doctors have adapted.

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