Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 30, 2008
By: dday

MAYBE HE NEEDS TO GO BACK TO IRAQ....I guess the right thinks this "Obama's afraid to visit Iraq, nanny nanny poo poo" taunt is a political winner for them. It certainly fits in with their strategy to paint the Illinois senator as un-American and weak. Of course, the exact phrases that John McCain is using in making the taunt match the words from Vets for Freedom, a 527 group which is off limits to any McCain supporters, but OK for the Presidential candidate as far as coordinating messages, I guess. McCain is also using unauthorized images of American military personnel in pushing this message along.

"The U.S. military must remain apolitical at all times and in all ways," wrote the chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, the nation’s highest-ranking officer. "It is and must always be a neutral instrument of the state, no matter which party holds sway." [...]

Three days [after Mullen’s advice was published], Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, sent a fundraising solicitation using an image of him and Gen. David Petraeus.

"Something is wrong with your judgment when you want to sit down unconditionally with Raul Castro and Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but you don't take the opportunity to sit down with General Petraeus and learn about the situation in Iraq firsthand," the letter reads. "My friends, this is not the 'change' we need in our next president."

I believe this comes very close to McCain breaking the law.

But let's break down his substantive "point," if we can dig it out. He's saying that you cannot show proper judgment about Iraq unless you physically set foot in the country. But, as Michael Ware notes, McCain has been in Iraq multiple times, and yet has screwed up assessments of the situation on the ground over and over again, most recently... yesterday:

All week we've been hearing about all those trips McCain has made to Iraq. We know about some of them. Like the one where he claimed he could stroll safely through a Baghdad. Or the one recently where he didn't know the difference between Sunnis and Shi'as.

Just yesterday, McCain was talking about how "quiet" Mosul is. But, Nico Pitney compared McCain's words to what was actually happening yesterday in Mosul:

"Moreover, McCain's claim that Mosul is "quiet" was disproved earlier today in grim fashion. Three suicide bombings -- two in Mosul and another in a surrounding town -- left 30 Iraqis dead and more than two dozen injured, according to press reports."

And the reason for that is that there's no such thing as a legitimate "fact-finding mission" in Iraq. The trips are highly sanitized dog-and-pony shows which make it nearly impossible to get a real picture of things. So on every level, McCain "killer attack" is more like a lead balloon.

dday 11:12 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

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Comments

potemkin villages

Historically, the villages may be suspect. But Republicans have perfected the concept. They do some things well.

Posted by: Everyman on May 30, 2008 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

In 2000, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney got close enough to steal the election by telling numerous, blatant, sickening lies -- which the corporate-owned mass media refused to call them on, while simultaneously waging an onslaught of character assassination against Al Gore.

Bush and Cheney were similarly successful, with the help of America's corporate media, in getting close enough to steal the election in 2004 on the basis of even more blatant lies.

Why should anyone think this tried and true formula won't work for John McCain in 2008?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on May 30, 2008 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

My friends, my d*ck is bigger than his. I deserve to be president
-- John McSham

Posted by: thersites on May 30, 2008 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

He's just piggybacking on that illegal Pentagon propaganda directed at influencing US policies.

Posted by: Bob M on May 30, 2008 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on May 30, 2008 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

The primary reason that those with the most Iraq trips under their belt exhibit the least accurate knowledge of the conditions their is that they go to Iraq not to learn but to shore up an increasingly incredulous public. They figure that they can more easily continue saying things that fewer and fewer believe if they can point to these trips as having affirmed their beliefs.

I'm reminded of a story about Mr. Rumsfeld making a point of asking a general when they were both on camera whether the general needed anything. The backstory was that Mr. Rumsfeld had just gotten an earful of things that were needed, but the General, put on the spot, felt he had to affirm the party line and said that everything was A-OK.

It almost seems that more could be learned by talking to those just recently returned from Iraq.

Posted by: jhm on May 30, 2008 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

dday makes McCain looking silly by misinterpreting his point. No, McCain wasn't implying that Obama is "afraid to visit Iraq." He was implying that Obama would benefit from more knowledge of conditions on the ground.

McCain wasn't implying that "you cannot show proper judgment about Iraq unless you physically set foot in the country." He was implying that a visit to Iraq could be helpful in understanding what's going on there.

dday's argument that a personal visit doesn't help is contradicted by all the members of Congress from both parties who have visited Iraq and then give a public assessment based on their visit.

It may be true, as dday writes, that some trips to Iraq are highly sanitized dog-and-pony shows which make it nearly impossible to get a real picture of things. However, a real leader doesn't have to settle for a mere dog-and-pony show. If Obama asked to meet with Petreus and other military leaders, they surely would agree to do so.

It takes more to evaluate how the war is going than simply pointing to some suicide bombings. Unfortunately, even when the Iraqi government controls an area, it's all too easy for a suicide bomber to detonate a bomb somewhere. By more sophisticated measures our side is doing very well indeed.

IMHO some Americans have given up on Iraq and simply want to withdraw the troops regardless of consequences. These people don't want to look at the changes in the situation on the ground, if those changes would disturb their prior belief. They prefer to look at bad news only. Obama's cammpaign seems to be aimed at these people.

Posted by: David on May 30, 2008 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

David:
Spoken like a true war hero. I worship at your feet.

Posted by: Everyman on May 30, 2008 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

And here's why:
"However, a real leader doesn't have to settle for a mere dog-and-pony show. If Obama asked to meet with Petreus and other military leaders, they surely would agree to do so."

I think I puked a little in my mouth. I'm sure a good waterboarding would wash it out.

Posted by: Everyman on May 30, 2008 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

McCain and his comrades know that Iraq trips are dog and pony shows. That is why McCain loves to go on them: to be able to claim that the markets are safe and that life is returning to normal... and to claim that any evidence to the contrary is overblown and not representative.

This is also why they are eager to push this talking point. Senator Obama has shown in his pushback to McCain's other talking points that he's willing to be aggressive and visionary when it comes to foreign policy.

There is no easy way for Obama to 'win' this pissing contest. If he goes to Iraq, he capitulates to McCain. If he doesn't go, then he is too scared and out of touch to go to Iraq.

Posted by: sdh on May 30, 2008 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

I believe that the primary reason Repugs want Obama in Iraq is the chance that the visual will be silly a la Dukakis in a tank.

A skinny, ill at ease guy in a flack jacket and an especially provided XL helmet make the GOP giggle with glee at the possibilities.

Posted by: keith g on May 30, 2008 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, David. I'll take the word of someone who has just returned from the operational theater under discussion. One of my roommates, a SPEC-4 in the Army National Guard. His take? "It's a complete clusterf*@k."
To paraphrase the expletive-ridden account for virgin ears; The men on the ground STILL can't get the equipment and supplies to the places in greatest need; The people STILL want to know where the "misplaced" 8 billion dollars went; The people STILL fear for their lives FROM BOTH THE EXTREMISTS AND US!!!
I do not, and can not agree with immediate and complete withdrawal because I understand the art of war, but the message must be clearly sent that a withdrawal is imminent and will be as complete as the PEOPLE of Iraq want it to be. Not the puppets in charge, the people.
McCain does not seem to have updated his definition of "victory" since WWII. A complete and total surrender is NOT going to happen and the longer we persist in demanding one, the longer any satisfactory resolution will elude us.

Posted by: DonkeyOdie on May 30, 2008 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

dday makes McCain looking silly by misinterpreting his point. No, McCain wasn't implying that Obama is "afraid to visit Iraq." He was implying that Obama would benefit from more knowledge of conditions on the ground.

McCain wasn't implying that "you cannot show proper judgment about Iraq unless you physically set foot in the country." He was implying that a visit to Iraq could be helpful in understanding what's going on there.

Yet another in a growing line of Republican apologists who have to serve as interlocutors for McCain's comments. Apparently the guy needs subtitles.

Well here's a newsflash, David: visits by politicians to flaming hot war zones do nothing to provide insight about "conditions on the ground" or "understanding what's going on there." Nobody proves this point better than John McCain, who famously & ridiculously claimed that there were neighborhoods of Baghdad through which he could walk freely -- though neglecting to mention that that's the case only if you have access to ten armored Humvees, a phalanx of soldiers with rifles, & two Apache attack helicopters backing you up.

So, no, a real leader doesn't have to settle for mere dog & pony show. But then, McCain isn't a real leader.

Posted by: junebug on May 30, 2008 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

After traveling with McCain to Baghdad last April, Rep. Mike Pence said that it was like "a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime." I don't plan on visiting Indiana anytime soon...

Posted by: AJB on May 30, 2008 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

McSame needs retirement.

Posted by: on May 30, 2008 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

So Obama was in Iraq in 2006, and McCain went there last year and now implies that because he was there more recently, that he has superior knowledge of the situation. Obama should offer McCain a deal- he'll go to Iraq if McCain concedes that after Obama visits, Obama will have knowledge of the situation in Iraq that is SUPERIOR to McCain's. If McCain doesn't go for the deal, it would be admitting the bankruptcy of his whole arguement.

Posted by: alameda on May 30, 2008 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Get the fuck over there David, you puny little shit. Just get.

It takes more to evaluate how the war is going than simply pointing to some suicide bombings.

Much better to have an evaluation like McCain's based on a sanitary stroll through a market secured by 100 soldiers while donning an ill-fit flak jacket.

However, a real leader doesn't have to settle for a mere dog-and-pony show.

I guess McCain is no real leader.

If Obama asked to meet with Petreus...

Why would he want to be lied to?

By more sophisticated measures our side is doing very well indeed.

At least that's what Cheney tells me!!!

IMHO some Americans have given up on Iraq...

Ya think? Some 68% of them yes. IMHO you're a worthless tool and your HO isn't worth a bucket of spit.

Perhaps McCain can tell us again about those mean ole Sunnis, or was the Shi'a? or the Kurds?

Jackass.

Posted by: ckelly on May 30, 2008 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

ckelly suggested that Obama need not meet with Petraeus, because "Why would he want to be lied to?"

If Obama can't communicate effectively with our top military people, then he shouldn't be CIC.

Posted by: David on May 30, 2008 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Some people cling to defeat the way a drowning man clings to a life preserver. They ignore all the recent good news:
-- Basra has been pacified
-- Sadr City has been pacified
-- These two victories were won primarily with Iraqi troops taking the lead.
-- America's weekly casulaty figure is at an all-time low because our troops needed only to provide support.
-- Al Qaeda in Iraq internal communication admits that they're essentially defeated.
-- Mosul, the last major city controlled by AQI, is substantially pacified.
-- Sunni parties are now eager to work with Maliki, thanks to his effective battles against the Mahdi Army.
-- Iran's influence in Iraq has been decimated by the defeat of the Mahdi Army.

Those wedded to defeat ignore all this good news. They're reduced to quibbling about the exact definnition of troop level and pointing out that Mosul isn't quite fully pacified.

Posted by: David on May 30, 2008 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

David, Iraqi policy stud muffin that you are, you forgot to add one more piece of good news:

Iraqis want us to get the fuck out of their country - pronto...

...an take our plans of army bases and desire for their oil with us as we exit.

They are standing up, but I bet McCain does not want to stand down in the way the Iraqis want.

Posted by: keith g on May 30, 2008 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: David on May 30, 2008 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Spare yourself the logical contortions, David, and just say what you mean: irrespective of the conditions you claim on the ground, the answer was before, is now, and forevermore will be that America must stay in Iraq. That's what the Surge was about. That's what the world's largest embassy-cum-fortress-resort spa is about. That's what McCain's 100-year comment is about. That's what his feeble parallels to Germany, Japan, & Korea are all about. It's the very thing his candidacy is premised on, and -- in fact -- it's the only reason he insists on remaining on the planet.

The country's rife with insurgents, terrorists, & other bad actors? We can't possibly leave.

It's teetering on the brink of civil war? Retreat would be unthinkable.

Basra & Sadr City have been pacified by Iraqis? American casualty figures are down? AQI has been crushed? Mosul is pacified? The lions have lain down with the lambs after vanquishing the latest bad guys & giving Iran the boot? We have no choice but to stay.

There simply aren't any circumstances under which America should ever leave Iraq, and you & St. John McCain will see to that by making it the 51st State of the Union. Your dishonesty is without end.

Posted by: junebug on May 30, 2008 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

Do please make clear that Obama has visited Iraq -- and at a time when McCain says it was more dangerous.

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