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Campaigns pass on Afghanistan


The Republican Party accidentally released its platform Friday afternoon much to the chagrin of political journalists in DC figuring it's leak would mean a long Friday night analyzing the document.

Defense editors and reporters had no such worry. In fact, a prominent defense editor in DC sent an e-mail to a colleague saying he'd have to wave off happy hour because of the platform's release. After reading the 12-page document, the defense editor rescinded on his cancellation and arrived to a well known DC watering hole promptly.

Thus is 2012 election coverage for military hacks in DC. The biggest story so far is the lack of attention the presidential candidates and their respective parties are giving it. Defense reporters are having to grasp at straws to find connections as Mitt Romney and President Obama have tried to avoid the subject.

Politico noted Monday the Republicans did not include a proposal making the rounds of some conservative circles that the U.S. spend 4 percent of its gross domestic product on the defense budget. Defense analysts had speculated that Romney would campaign on this spending promise to show his commitment to the military at a time when the Obama administration is planning to cut the Pentagon's budget.

Rowan Scarborough of the Washington Times wrote that the Republicans will take aim at Obama's "social experimentation" citing the end of Don't Ask Don't Tell and the consideration of opening up new roles to women in combat. Conservative groups have claimed this "experimentation" has affected military readiness, although the few ripples that followed the end of Don't Ask Don't Tell will be difficult to explain.

Again, the war in Afghanistan as a topic was avoided in the GOP's platform. And frankly, it doesn't make sense to bring it up for the Republicans since they haven't succinctly defined how their approach would differ that much from the president's.

This isn't meant to beat up on the Republicans. It's doubtful much will be mentioned about Afghanistan or the military when the Democratic National Convention kicks off in Charlotte, N.C., on Sept. 4. President Obama may bring up the raid to kill Osama Bin Laden, but not much else as the military slogs through its pull out from Afghanistan and deals with a spike of supposed Afghan allies killing U.S. troops.

The war in Afghanistan is a political loser. Americans have stated in multiple polls that they no longer support a troop presence in Afghanistan. A Quinnipiac University poll earlier this month found that 60 percent of registered voters felt the U.S. should no longer be involved in Afghanistan while just 31 percent  said the U.S. should stay in the fight. But neither candidate wants to suggest the U.S. leaves immediately for risk of looking weak on national security.

Here's a tip to anyone thinking of visiting our nation's capitol. Pick a week of one of the national conventions. The Metro is wide open. And it's easy to get a table at any restaurant because the city is empty with all the journalists, think-tankers and politicians traveling to the convention.

One would think the same would be the case for military journalists with the nation at war in Afghanistan. But it's simply not. The military is sitting this election out.

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