Thanks to the modern miracle of the virtual community, I was able to meet with a feisty, funny, great group of military families via liveblogging, during the Foreign Policy debate between Barack Obama and John McCain that just wound down.
I'm referring to Blue Star (and Gold Star) Families for Obama. They've got a great website available at www.bsf4o.com .
The motto of the organization is "Pro-Military, Pro-Obama," and what I found so, well, COMFORTING was being able to converse via the Internet with active-duty military families--many of whom had loved ones currently deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan--and the veterans who were watching with them. (I've got one of my own here, who was also watching.)
What I mean by "comforting," is that if you live in a conservative Red-state area, as I do, you are used to gritting your teeth into powder while being surrounded by a bunch of flag-wavers who seem to think that if you don't vote Republican that you hate the troops, or that if you are from a military family, well you MUST hero-worship the war-hero.
I can tell you that there are many military families who not only DON'T hero-worship John McCain, but resent deeply his seemingly endless ability to play on his war service and navy family for political purposes while, at the same time, voting against veteran's benefits time and time and time again.
As one said, "I'm glad he keeps bringing up his support for veteran's issues. That only gives us an opportunity to point out the facts of his record."
And so "GoldStarLMW" did just that. Among the statistics she posted were that, among every major veteran's group you can mention, McCain's voting record in support of their interests virtually never went above 25%, although once or twice, he went along with their needs maybe half the time.
"Militarywifeobamamama" typed, "Veteran sitting beside me says McCain supports Bush; he doesn't support veterans."
When it came to McCain's sad, sentimental, soaring story about wearing the bracelet of the war dead to remind him that he never wanted to see another soldier die in vain, "GoldStarLMW" immediately posted:
"NO soldier EVER dies in vain."
The rest of the bloggers were outraged at the whole bracelet story. To condense what several said, "We're all wearing bracelets, John. You don't have a corner on the market on that one."
One simply typed, "This is shameless."
There was laughter, too, when Militarywifeobamamama proposed a new "drinking game," wherein we all took a swig of whatever we had handy whenever McCain said, "What Senator Obama doesn't seem to understand..."
A few moments passed, then one wag typed, "I'm gonna have to get another bottle of wine."
And when Obama said, "We have to use our military wisely," a blogger calling herself "Lawyer Mama" blogged that the group of veterans in the room watching the debate with her broke into applause.
If Obama had a mis-step, at least from the perspective of the Blue Star families watching, it was at the very end, when McCain said, "I love the veterans, and I will take care of them. They know that I will take care of them."
So many military family bloggers hit the keys at that one that the system was clogged up for a moment. I may have actually used the term LYING BASTARD in my comment, and yes, I did use all caps.
Most of them were upset that Obama failed to take the moment to reveal the truth of McCain's DISMAL track record in support of veterans. He doesn't take care of them AT ALL, as I pointed out in a previous post, "Bikers May Love Obama, But Veterans Do Not."
One said, "WHY WHY WHY didn't he go after his record?" Another said, "I cannot believe he didn't go after McCain's record."
I pointed out that it was the very end of the debate, and Obama had a few seconds to wrap the whole thing up. There just wasn't time, and McCain KNEW that. He always wrings out the emotional rag when he knows he's short on facts or truth.
And when he mentioned, at the very end, that he'd been a prisoner of war, "Militarywifeobamamama" who was also watching with a group of veterans, wrote, "Veterans abuzz here. Some had a bet on when he'd mention it. I won!"
Among those troops currently deployed, according to non-partisan statistics, support for Barack Obama outnumbers support for John McCain SIX to ONE. Veterans groups, as well, routinely rate his voting record as poor. When both candidates recently addressed the Veterans of Foreign Wars, one vet in the crowd commented that all McCain did in his speech was criticize his opponent, whereas Obama had spelled out his vision and program and funding ideas for their needs.
"I'd've liked to have heard what McCain was going to do about all these problems," he said.
McCain has always acted as if he takes the military and veteran's votes for granted. That they would automatically support him just because of his war-hero narrative. This is every bit as insulting as the idea that most all women will vote for him because he chose a woman for a running mate.
He seems to think if he just tells a tear-jerker story, waxes patriotic, waves the flag a time or two and says things like, "Veterans know that I will always take care of them," that somehow they will believe him even though they know better.
It's not the case, and I've met many troops and veterans who not only don't support McCain, but are angry at him for his policies and outraged at some of the things he says that they know are not true.
And they fully support Barack Obama.
But I'm afraid that's just something that Sen. McCain doesn't seem to understand.
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