By Howard Kurtz
Saturday, July 19, 2008
The Ad: Barack Obama never held a single Senate hearing on Afghanistan. He hasn't been to Iraq in years. He voted against funding our troops. Positions that helped him win his nomination. Now Obama is changing to help himself become president. John McCain has always supported our troops and the surge that's working. McCain. Country first.
Analysis: This McCain commercial tries to paint Obama as inexperienced and anti-military, in part by taking a protest vote out of context. Obama has frequently voted to finance the war but was one of 14 Senate Democrats to oppose a war-funding bill last year -- after Republicans removed troop withdrawal deadlines -- saying he did not want to be "validating the same failed policy in Iraq."
The ad is accurate in saying that Obama, who has spent most of the past two years campaigning, has not held a hearing on Afghanistan in the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee he chairs. His only visit to Iraq was in 2006, and the ad is timed to cast doubt on his trip there next week.
Obama has been criticized for saying recently that he would "refine my policies" for a 16-month withdrawal from Iraq, although he maintains that his position is unchanged. The ad puts up what appear to be news headlines -- "Obama's Disingenuous 'Change' Agenda," "Obama the Candidate of 'Change My Mind' " -- that are actually from opinion pieces in the New York Post and Atlanta Journal-Constitution, respectively.
The tagline -- "country first" -- is a not-so-subtle attempt to suggest that the former Navy aviator, pictured against American flag images, is more patriotic than Obama, who did not serve in the military and spent part of his childhood in Indonesia.