Saturday, January 31, 2009

After Campaign Push, Obama Cultivates Military

In Iraq in July, Senators Barack Obama and Chuck Hagel, right, talked to Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commander there. Lorie Jewell/U.S. Army, via Associated Press

From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The outreach began more than a year ago when Barack Obama, the antiwar candidate who had never served in the military, turned to a group of young officers just out of active duty for a fresh perspective on America’s two wars.

“He asked a lot of questions,” recalled one of the officers, Craig M. Mullaney, a former Army Ranger in Afghanistan who in campaign travels with Mr. Obama told him how his platoon of 35 men had vaccinated camels, worked with tribal elders and been in charge of security for a province the size of Vermont.

That early outreach has since given way to a carefully planned campaign by Mr. Obama to build trust with the military and avoid the mistakes that hobbled Bill Clinton, the last Democratic commander in chief. By Thursday, when the president met for the first time with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in “the tank,” the secure Pentagon conference room, the campaign had progressed to the point that participants left “comforted,” as one put it, about Mr. Obama’s willingness to work with them.

Read more ....

My Comment: Changing the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. Asking the Pentagon for 10% across the board cuts. This and other policies will alienate much if not all of the arms services. The killer (at least for me) was not attending the Presidential Ball that is dedicated to Medal of Honor recipients on the night of the inauguration, an event that every President has attended since President Eisenhower.

President Bush was always perceived by the military as one of them (i.e. a soldier) .... President Obama will never attain that same stature. The best that he can do is listen .... make his presence felt among the soldiers in non-public events, and go the extra distance in addressing their concerns when they arise. His extension on the "stay at home for a longer duration after serving in a combat zone" is a step in the right direction.

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