January 15, 2008

Something solid from the other side...

The biggest disappointment of my six years of blogging is that I've NEVER ONCE had a left-leaning opponent engage in principled debate with me. (Lot's of snark and sneers, but not the kind of debate where you rebut each of your opponent's arguments with facts and logic.)

Since I believe in debate (my faith is shaken, but not yet extinct) I like to take note when, rarely, someone on the Leftish or anti-war side actually makes a real argument backed by facts and ideas. And that goes double for for Barak Obama, who I've never once, until this morning, heard a rational argument in favor of. Just stupid mush about how he's dripping with charisma and "hope." And triple, since the argument was made by Phil Carter, who I consider right on many details and very wrong-headed on the big picture. (Note, I don't read him regularly, and so may be being unfair.)

Carter's points about Obama and vets:

....As a veteran, I support Barack Obama because of his deeds, not his words. Up front, I'll agree that he's been absent from Washington and on the campaign trail for a significant part of the last few months. That's no surprise. However, it'd be wrong to leap from that observation to concldue that Sen. Obama has not fought hard for America's veterans. During his time in Washington, and before in the Illinois state legislature, Obama has led the way on a number of important initiatives for veterans, earning my support and the support of many other veterans I know. Here are just a few of his deeds:
Homeless Veterans: As a United States Senator, Obama has authored legislation to extend and expand critically important programs to stop homelessness among American veterans. He's worked with other Senators on the Veterans Affairs committee, ranging from Daniel Akaka (D-HI) to Larry Craig (R-ID), to pass legislation providing comprehensive services and affordable housing options to veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Housing and Urban Development and community organizations.

Fighting for IL Veterans: After learning of reports that Illinois veterans were receiving less in disability than those from other states, Sen. Obama worked with Sen. Dick Durbin to engage with the VA and correct these gross disparities. As a result of his efforts, the VA opened an investigation into the issue and took steps to fix it including the hiring of more claims specialists for the Chicago VA office and the reexamination of vets' claims upon request.

Traumatic Brain Injury: Crossing the aisle once again to help vets, Sen. Obama also worked with Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) to pass an amendment ensuring that all service members returning from Iraq are properly screened for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). And Sen. Obama fought to include a requirement in this year's National Defense Authorization Act that the VA must provide combat veterans with a mental health care screening within 30 days of an appointment request. This provision originated in another Obama bill, the Lane Evans Veterans Health and Benefits Improvement Act, which he introduced in both the 109th and 110th Congress.

And the list goes on — deeds not words. In addition to these accomplishments, Sen. Obama's agenda includes significant proposals totake care of America's sons and daughters whom we send into harm's way. These include, but aren't limited to, proposals to improve post-discharge transition; requiring interoperability between DoD and VA medical records systems; fully funding VA medical care; eliminating the means test which keeps middle class veterans out of the VA medical system; improving mental health care, particularly for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans; continued research and innovation for TBI; fixing the VA benefits bureaucracy and eliminating the VA claims backlog; and continuing the VA medical system's tradition of excellence that's made it one of the nation's leading health care systems. He's also pledged to crack down on discrimination against veterans and to commit significant resources to the enforcement of the SCRA and USERRA statutes to protect active and reserve military personnel and their families.

These are the reasons why I support Sen. Obama, and why I am encouraging my fellow veterans to support him too. Notice that I haven't attacked the Clinton campaign at all; I think quite highly of Sen. Clinton and her work on the Armed Services Committee. However, I support Barack Obama because he inspires me, and because I believe he has the character, judgment and vision to lead this country. Attacking his rivals won't help veterans, nor will it help America. Electing Barack Obama will.
Posted by John Weidner at January 15, 2008 8:52 AM
Weblog by John Weidner