The Marines' muted response is hardly surprising. A number of folks have written on this (Obama's sending a good message, to one degree or another), but Sister Toldjah says it best:
It’s gonna take a lot more than “symbolic gestures” like visiting troops in Hawaii over the Christmas holidays, and playing basketball with them in Afghanistan on a trip designed to highlight your “foreign policy creds.” Barack Obama repeatedly and routinely denigrated the mission in Iraq, not just as a US Senator, but as a candidate for Commander in Chief of the armed forces. Whether or not he meant to demean the sacrifices of our troops, that’s exactly what he - and anyone else - did who either said or implied that they were making the ultimate sacrifice for a “lie” … that their deaths were “wasted” deaths. That’s what he did when he noted over the summer that, even knowing the successes that the surge would have brought to the table - including the sharp downturn in violence - that he still would have voted against the surge. It was something he said no doubt to please the anti-war left, whose votes he needed to help him win the election, but it was also something he said that turned the stomachs of the military and those who supported them alike, who realized that not only would the violence and death have escalated as a result of not putting the surge in place, but that the deaths of our servicemen and women over there would have been in vain, because he wanted troops out by March of this year.There's more at the link.
Recall that thoughout 2007, Barack Obama was the most strident antiwar member of the U.S. Senate (see, "Obama Sees a ‘Complete Failure’ in Iraq"). Last July, during Obama's visit to Germany, where he made a speech the Siegessäule Victory Column, a Nazi-era landmark, the Democratic nominee skipped a pre-arranged visit to Lanstuhl military hospital to visit wounded U.S. veterans. Obama also declined an invitation to visit Fort Hood in August, where a town hall meeting on veterans issues was organized by military families. Recall, too, that Barack Obama and the Democrats repeatedly denigrated John McCain's military service throughout the campaign. We could certainly find more examples of Obama's indifference to military issues and veterans' affairs.
Indeed, there's little in the President-Elect's record to indicate a predisposition toward supporting the military. But as commander-in-chief he'll be responsible for the safety and well-being of our service personnel. We'll soon know, of course, how strong is the Obama administration's commitment to the troops. Big questions on defense spending and military deployments await the Democrats' accession to power in January. As a first step toward more credibility, Obama should commit to expanding active-duty soldiers by 30,000 troops, as the Army requested this week. After that, Obama should defer to the assessments of top U.S. commanders on the ground in Afghanistan in Iraq, even if that includes a slowdown on the pace of troop redeployments out of Iraq.