Some local Democrats gathered today at Veterans Park to respond to a recent paid political ad that the McCain campaign is running in Michigan. Five US military veterans and a few local Democratic candidates stood by the newly erected Iraq veterans memorial to say that the McCain ad falsely presents Democratic Party presidential candidate Barack Obama as someone who doesn’t support the troops and doesn’t have the security of the country in mind.
The McCain ad in question has a series of images of Senator Obama with a map of Iraq in the background and the following narrative:
“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 is working. McCain, country first!”
There were two spokespersons for the local Democrats, Kent County Commissioner Paul Mayhue and local labor leader Buck Geno. Mayhue began his comments by stating that:
“John McCain is a war hero and we acknowledge his commitment to serving this country as a veteran of war. However, McCain has voted against funding for equipment for the troops and is committed to staying in Iraq indefinitely.”
“Senator Obama’s focus is getting out of Iraq and putting the attention on winning the War on Terror in Afghanistan. The Taliban, Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden have regrouped along the Pakistani border. Therefore, we must strengthen our alliances and secure loose nuclear weapons if we are to win the War on Terror.”
Buck Geno, a Vietnam veteran, was the next person to address the media. Geno asked the question “where was McCain when Veterans needed you? What about the lack of benefits for Veterans and where were you during the Walter Reed scandal?” When Mr. Geno finished his comments, the two took questions.
Mediamouse.org posed the following question:
“There is plenty of evidence that thousands of civilians have died in the US/NATO occupation of Afghanistan and that torture and detention has been documented that is similar to Abu Ghraib. How does the increase of US troops to Afghanistan that Senator Obama is proposing going to help the people of Afghanistan?”
Paul Mayhue responded by saying that increasing US troop presence in Afghanistan will help the US win the “War on Terror” and will take the money that we are putting into Iraq back into domestic programs.” Buck Geno added, “Senator Obama’s plan puts the focus back on Afghanistan, which we have forgotten about since 9/11.”
With Senator Obama in the midst of his trip to Afghanistan and Iraq, one should expect that there will be more attention given to both the Republican and Democratic positions on the US occupation of both of those countries. While the Republicans question the Democrats commitment to the security of the country and the Democrats claim their commitment to winning “the War on Terror” it is extremely important that the media seeks independent and non-partisan perspectives, such as those of the Afghanistan people. According to a report today on Democracy Now!, many residents of Kabul oppose Obama’s plan to send more troops to Afghanistan and criticize Western officials for not doing more to help Afghanistan.