The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America have today released their annual "Report Cards" on the House and Senate. Some of you may be familiar with this idea of giving members of Congress a letter grade based on their voting records and sponsorship of legislation that supports various organizations.
In today's political climate, I consider this organization's grade to be one of those that makes a difference. To me, it has to do with the old value of actions speaking louder than words. Or as John McCain has recently called the concept, not only "talking the talk, but walking the walk."
The results are not surprising to me. But I think that they should be. It saddens me that I am not surprised.
For review, let me point out that the McCain campaign has repeatedly attacked Barack Obama as not supporting the troops. Their attacks have ranged from negative ads released after Obama's trip to Germany to questioning his voting record in both debates to comparing the number of trips he took to Iowa with those he took to Iraq.
John McCain also goes to great lengths to remind everyone of his experience as a POW.
It's something that is one of the great disconnects with John McCain. In my experience, and based on what I read in the experience of most others, the great majority of our veteran's are reluctant to speak about their own service. My father is very proud of his service, as evidenced by his Vietnam Vet bumper sticker and photos of his friends on the wall above his computer. Yet he rarely mentions it, and to actually get him to speak about that time in more than a passing fashion requires emotional trauma.
The IAVA proudly gave out 150 perfect scores this year. That shows the nation's commitment to our troops, even in a very unpopular war. We should all be proud. Unfortunately, they also gave out 9 D's or F's.
Anyway, to the grades of the presidential candidates. Largely due to his absences while on the campaign trail, Barack Obama receives a B. I would greatly prefer that to be otherwise, knowing that it is a subject we both consider of great import, but there it is. Not the top grade, but respectable.
John McCain gets a D.
Let me repeat that. John McCain received a D. Yes, his large number of absences affect his grade. But they also affected Barack Obama, yet he got a B.
Also, if you go to the website of the IAVA and download the full document of their 2008 Report Card, you will notice that while they do not take a politician's military service into the grading, they do notate that service by placing a star next to their name.
Of all the Senators listed, only one man has that honorable star next to the dishonor of a D or an F. John McCain.
Way to "walk the walk" there, John.