Like John McCain's son my son served in the Marines and fought in George Bush's wars. As a military parent I am sad and angry that McCain has been using Senator Obama's canceled visit to wounded American soldiers in Germany for blatant political ends. McCain is doing exactly what Senator Obama would not do: use our soldiers' injuries to bolster his political career.
McCain and the Republicans are running a commercial trying to paint senator Obama as somehow neglectful of our troops. This claim and the commercial are a barefaced lies. The headline in today's Washington Post about this story says it all: McCain's Charge Against Obama Lacks Evidence. The lead editorial in today's New York Times also points out that this story is untrue and a proof of dirty Rove-style politics.
Senator Obama has visited our wounded service members. He has done so without media fanfare and quietly with dignity. That is because he cares enough about our troops to not misuse them as a chip in his election bid, the very reason he canceled his visit to those wounded soldiers overseas. Unlike McCain Senator Obama also supported the new GI bill to give our troops the help they deserve with college costs.
Back in 2000, before our sons went to war, I worked for McCain's election in the Republican primaries. As a guest on many conservative radio programs I argued for him against the supporters of George W. Bush. I did this as a life-long (now former) Republican. I did this as a fan of the military. And McCain rewarded me with a long and glowing endorsement of one of my books: AWOL-The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes From Military Service and How It Hurts Our Country.
Last week I was speaking in Washington to a meeting of military parents, some of whom had just returned from visiting their wounded sons at Walter Reed. As I write this I'm on the road again and about to speak to a fabled Army regiment's commanders about being a military parent in today's America. I won't name them here because they didn't volunteer to be used as part of my argument. These troops and their families have sacrificed enough so that any decent human being -- whatever his or her politics -- would not stoop to abusing them for ulterior ends.
McCain, in a deeply cynical ploy to misinform, is lying about Obama. Any lie is bad enough. But to impugn Senator Obama in way that also abuses our troops is not only wrong but political slime. This is an act of unpatriotic desperation.
Today I am ashamed of Senator McCain. I'm sorry his name is on the jacket of one of my books. He is dishonoring his military record and our men and women in uniform. Shame on you Senator McCain.
Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of CRAZY FOR GOD-How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back