One would think John McCain, with all his military experience, would understand the pitfalls of politicizing our troops.
The military is supposed to remain apolitical for a reason. Troop morale is paramount to preserving the integrity of the chain of command. Morale will be poor if they think their Commander-in-Chief doesn't have their best interests in mind.
Shouldn't McCain understand this? It's clear, however, that this concept completely eludes McCain.
We're in an election season, which means that mud will be slung and fights will be picked. But, there is one fight that McCain should leave alone: He should not portray his dedication to the troops as being stronger than that of Barack Obama. McCain should not, for example, have said, "I had the courage and the judgment to say I would rather lose a political campaign than lose a war. It seems to me that Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign"
McCain is just plain wrong when he says that Obama has shown disregard for the troops. Obama could have chosen any committee when he joined the Senate. One of the committee's he chose to focus on was the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. He chose to serve the needs of the veterans.
Don't just take my word on this. Take the word also of Chuck Hagel, the Republican Senator of Nebraska and a decorated Vietnam War veteran who joined Obama on his Iraq trip. Hagel stated: "[McCain is] treading on some very thin ground when he impugns motives, and when we start to get into 'You're less patriotic than me.'"
Obama received similar support from Rhode Island Democratic Senator Jack Reed, who is a former U.S. Army Ranger and paratrooper: "Senator Hagel, Senator Obama, and I visited the combat support hospital in Baghdad to thank those nurses, those doctors, to see patients that were there, to bring a bit of greetings from home and profound thanks...That should be in the ad that Senator McCain is running."
McCain, like Hagel and Reed, could have praised Obama for his efforts to support the troops. If McCain had done so, he would have shown that he understood the intricacies of the relationship between politics and the military; he would have shown that his experience has taught him that the military needs to remain apolitical.
Instead, McCain chose to politicize the troops by turning a negative light on Obama's Iraq trip. By doing this, McCain could ultimately be turning the troops against their next Commander-in-Chief.
By choosing to pick this fight, McCain's military experience has been overshadowed by his own bad judgment.