"Why do you think he didn't go?" Larry King asked Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on Monday night, referring to Sen. Barack Obama's scrubbed trip to visited wounded veterans at Landstuhl Hospital in Germany.
"I have no idea except that I know that according to reports that he wanted to bring media people and cameras and his campaign staffers," McCain said.
The part about wanting to bring the media is decidedly not true. There were never any plans for Obama to "bring media people and cameras." Never.
The issue was, according to sources in both the Pentagon and the Obama campaign, whether Obama could bring Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott Gration (Ret.), an adviser to his campaign.
After the Pentagon told Gration he couldn't come, since he was officially seen as a campaign staffer and not as a former military man, that's when Obama scrubbed the trip.
Why is that?
Obama said Saturday that "we got notice that he (Gration) would be treated as a campaign person, and it would therefore be perceived as political because he had endorsed my candidacy but he wasn’t on the Senate staff. That triggered then a concern that maybe our visit was going to be perceived as political. And the last thing that I want to do is have injured soldiers and the staff at these wonderful institutions having to sort through whether this is political or not or get caught in the crossfire between campaigns."
McCain has taken out a TV ad attacking Obama on the issue, again claiming Obama scrubbed the trip because he couldn't bring cameras -- a charge McCain's friend Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., called "inappropriate."
On Tuesday, the McCain campaign continued its attack on Obama for not visiting Landstuhl, issuing a statement with Army Maj. Craig Layton (Ret.), the former Command Sergeant Major at Landstuhl, saying, "Why Senator Obama felt he needed an adviser with him to visit U.S. troops is unclear, but if Senator Obama isn't comfortable meeting wounded American troops without his entourage, perhaps he does not have the experience necessary to serve as commander in chief."
Gen. Gration hardly constitutes a one-man version of Turtle, Johnny Drama, Ari and E.
This seems quite a stretch.
The Obama campaign may have itself to blame for this problem. After initially not explaining the trip's cancellation, the campaign's first explanation of why the trip was canceled lacked important context, such as any information about the Pentagon and Gen. Gration. (Why wasn't the Obama campaign more than forthcoming? Because clearly some top advisers believed it was OK to spin half-truths to the media simply because they are physiologically able to do so, the candidate's rhetoric about transparency and serving "the people" notwithstanding.)
It may not have been until Obama addressed the matter at 10 Downing Street that we got an answer seemingly close to the truth on this all.
But that doesn't change the fact that the McCain campaign and McCain himself are not being honest in their attacks on this issue, which are inconsistent and assume facts not in evidence
Grim all around.