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Already shirking his duty?
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In his quest to become the next commander-in-chief, Sen. Barack Obama isn’t exactly making an indelible impression.

The first-term junior senator for Illinois visited Afghanistan and Iraq recently, trying to get a feel for what’s really happening on the ground. It’s apparent he may still not get it.

Obama has continued to downplay and even dismiss the effects of the “surge” in stabilizing the fragile and brittle Iraqi nation.

Insurgent attacks are down. Al-Qaeda in Iraq has been reduced to ineffectiveness. The forces of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr have been marginalized. An AP news analysis showed that the surge has indeed brought the country back to an even keel and even pointed in the right direction.

Sen. Obama said that it was the political environment in Iraq that allowed that to happen. But that environment was secured and fostered by the surge he opposed in the first place and to this day will not credit.

There is also his decision not to visit wounded troops in Germany. Now, whether he decided nobly not to go because he thought it would be perceived as political in nature is in question. Cynics will argue that since he couldn’t drag along a fawning media to show him expressing his concern to the wounded troops, he opted to back out.

Army officials, according to the New York Times, told Obama the reporters and photographers would have to stay back, since they weren’t allowed into Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. Obama’s campaign had planned for an adviser to accompany the Democratic nominee in waiting, but the Army wouldn’t allow him in because he was a volunteer with the Obama campaign. So Obama skipped the visit entirely.

As a United States senator, even one who was in office for less than 180 days before announcing his presidential candidacy, Obama is entitled to visit soldiers recovering from their combat injuries. It might have done him some good, too, to talk to them and listen to them and get their stories about what’s going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. But he chose not to.

There’s an assertion floating around cyberspace that Obama likewise blew off the troops in Afghanistan during his visit there. He bypassed a line of soldiers to meet with the brass and never once stopped to offer his thanks for their service, in a missive from a soldier-witness making its way around the Internet.

Those assertions are often difficult to prove and often erroneous, but if it’s accurate, it’s shameful that pro basketball players and pro football cheerleaders spent more time and offered more gratitude to the soldiers than the man who hopes to be their commander in a few months.

Obama has few rivals as a modern-day orator, but the reaction of a couple of hundred thousand Germans to his speech in Berlin has little impact on me. They’re not voting for him, and I’m not voting for Angela Merkel.

Now, Washington itself is abuzz with what is being seen as Obama’s imperious and not presidential attitude toward the media and others. That’s not the way to influence people and win friends, even ones already presumed to be in your corner.

Obama’s biggest flaw is a lack of experience. Perhaps it’s beginning to show.