The Right Gets It Wrong About Soldier Bracelet

The Guardians of Sanctimonious War Hypocrisy have been pulling out the fainting couch over a bloggers’ claim that Barack Obama did not have permission to wear the soldier bracelet that he mentioned after John McCain pulled off his own bracelet and boasted about how the mother who gave it to him had asked him to make sure her son’s death was not in vain.

Here is the post that set off the attack of vapors:

Barack Obama’s bracelet is apparently not being worn with permission from the parents, and what he’s saying about it seems not to be true. The mother is no Cindy Sheehan.

This, in a fair world, should come back to bit him: During the debate on September 26, 2008, Barack Obama attempted to counter John McCain’s bracelet story. This was portrayed as “new” — but it is not: Senator Obama has been telling HIS bracelet story since the bracelet was given to him in February of 2008. (Even so, Senator Obama had to read the name from the bracelet during the debate.)

But there’s a difference: Senator Obama is apparently doing this against the parents’ will. He was specifically asked, according to Staff Sgt. Brian Jopek (Ryan’s father) to stop telling this story and to take the bracelet off.

Mrs. Jopek was an Obama supporter (at least in March of this year) and doesn’t want to sabotage the campaign, so she refused to give interviews. But I found an old radio interview with the father Brian Jopek (who served in Iraq and is now apparently serving at the Guantanamo base):

BRIAN JOPEK: Whatever is decided, we need to make sure that it benefits the American servicemen, and also the Iraqis.
* * *
We don’t wanna go back in there in ten years, at a greater cost and more lives.

I sure hope that, whoever is elected, Democrat or Republican, that they look at the big picture and don’t just pull up stakes — or “pop smoke” as we say in the military, because of the political atmosphere.”

Regarding Barack Obama: According to the father, Tracy Jopek wrote to the Senator: “She had asked him not to wear the bracelet.”

Kim Priestap at Wizbang exclaimed:

What a callous and cruel thing to do to anyone, let alone to one of your own supporters, for Pete’s sake. Jopek’s mother asked Obama to stop wearing the bracelet because it was supposed to be only between the two of them and not for public consumption. Obama, however, went back on that request because politics is simply more important than the request of a dead soldier’s family. Because she’s one of his supporters, it seems he’s just going to continue to wear it, banking on the fact she won’t say anything to hurt his candidacy. Obama is an arrogant, selfish, and self-consumed jerk.

A diarist at Redstate advised:

Even if Ryan’s mother is a supporter of Obama, we have a duty to respect the wishes of Ryan’s family. After all, Ryan was, is and shall always be a true American hero in his own right. Let us honor Sgt. Jopek, an American hero, by respecting the wishes of his family.

Well, weep not, kind hearts: Ryan Jopek’s mother is not upset at all that Obama wore her son’s bracelet and talked about it at the debate — in fact, she is “ecstatic“:

In an interview with the Associated Press today, Brian’s ex-wife confirmed today that she had asked the Obama campaign to ask the candidate to stop mentioning her son on the stump.

But — and here’s where it gets complicated — according to the AP story, Tracy Jopek also said she was “ecstatic” that Obama mentioned her son’s hero bracelet during Friday’s debate. That’s because he was responding to McCain citing a different griveing [sic] mother’s hero bracelet as a way to back his political views of the war in Iraq and citing the bracelet she’d given Obama was a good and appropriate way to remind people there are different views on this issue.

This is the point that the outraged voices on the right are ignoring: McCain’s self-serving little speech about the bracelet he was wearing, and his use of that quote from the soldier’s mother, who shares McCain’s views on the war, were clearly blatant attempts to use the soldier’s death and his mother’s comment for political advantage. What was Obama supposed to do at that point? Allow McCain to get away with falsely suggesting that Obama didn’t care about fallen soldiers, or that soldiers’ families all support the war, and McCain for president?

To give credit where it’s due, several bloggers on the right were fair enough and honest enough to look at the other side. Morgan Freeberg at Right Wing News has this paragraph:

Let’s be fair, here. Can you imagine how the mother of Sergeant Jopek would have felt, had Obama simply let this go — right while the bracelet was dangling on his own wrist? He had to say something. I hope that’s what motivated him, and I think he does have some human decency, and that that is indeed the case.

And Ed Morrissey, doing one of his dizzying switches from far right wingnut to decent human being, makes these rather reasonable points:

This interview was from March, according to Warner (you can hear it at this link).  It’s possible that they have changed their minds again, and not unlikely, given the family’s support for Obama.  Jopek is divorced from his wife and may not have been speaking for her.  If Tracy Jopek wanted Obama to continue to use the bracelet to make this case, or changed her mind about him stopping, then Obama did nothing wrong.

However, if the Jopeks did ask him to stop wearing the bracelet and stop talking about it on the campaign trail, it’s disrespectful for Obama to continue to do so.  He should have honored their wishes and used a different example.  Obama could have talked about Cindy Sheehan’s loss if he was desperate for one, but there are other Gold Star families who oppose the war and probably would support Obama’s use of their loss as a campaign talking point.

Since this interview was six months ago, we should wait for the Jopeks to say whether they object to the use of the bracelet by Obama.  Obama’s use of the bracelet was obviously planned, and I’d have a hard time believing that no one would have thought to check with the Jopeks first.

6 Responses to “The Right Gets It Wrong About Soldier Bracelet”

  1. McCain is good at telling stories, pointless stories, but stories that non the less appeal to the vast low information voter that makes up his base.

  2. terry says:

    Also note that the Mom said ..she e-mailed the Obama campaign through its Web site asking that he not mention it during debates or speeches. She never got a reply but said she didn’t hear of him mentioning it after that…

    With the amount of email the campaign gets thru the website, it’s very possible that the email never made it to the right person who could inform the Senator.

  3. tas says:

    These people are trying to make a bracelet into a fucking scandal? Jesus. Parody has no match for the levels of retardedness that these fucking wingnuts will sink to.

  4. chris greta says:

    Yes, Senator Obama is wearing a HeroBracelet in the name of SGT Jopek. The bracelet was presented to him by his mother.

    I am with and Senator McCain and President Bush have both been presented HeroBracelts by the mothers of fallen soldiers. Recently, other members of the Jopek family have ordered HeroBracelets to “read exactly like the bracelet Senator Obama is wearing.”

    So, from my direct experience, this is a non-issue.

    Thousands are wearing HeroBracelets to honor the memories of soldiers and Marines they have never met and they do so out of respect. is a non-political organization that raises money through the bracelet sales for both the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and the Military Order of The Purple Heart.

  5. gcotharn says:

    I agree the bracelet thing is a nonstory. The right blogs which I read all tamped it down as an unproven rumor.

    Which reminds me: I commend the bloggers here for taking passes on the latest unconfirmed Palin rumors. Commendable. Rational. Honorable. Shrewd. Nice job.

  6. GKJ says:

    It’s hard to believe that someone (Obama), who wears a bracelet of a fallen soldier given to him by that soldier’s mother, would have to read his name. I would think that if this meant anything to him, he would at least know the soldier’s name. I guess it’s just not that important to him.


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