Saturday, April 07, 2007

McCain's Ego Trip

After being rightly derided for his idiotic claim that some Baghdad streets were safe enough for Americans to stroll-down and that General Petraeus regularly drove around in an unarmored vehicle, what did John McCain do?

Wearing body armor, driven in a fully-armored convoy and escorted by the general and several fully-armed squads he wandered around the Shoria market whilst pretending not to notice the more than 100 soldiers who had cordoned off the area and the three Blackhawks and two Apache helicopter gunships patrolling overhead. Upon returning to the heavily-fortified Green Zone he remarked it was just like “going to a market in Indiana.”

Upon his return to the US he acceded to 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelly that the reality of his trip didn’t quite match his prior claims, but he put the discrepancy down to a poor choice of words:

"Of course I am going to misspeak and I've done it on numerous occasions and I probably will do it in the future…I regret that when I divert attention to something I said from my message, but you know, that's just life…I'm happy, frankly, with the way I operate, otherwise it would be a lot less fun."

McCain had made his claims of the “surge” being so effective that “you or I could walk freely down some streets in Baghdad, today” first on Bill Bennett’s radio show, then to Wolf Blitzer on CNN the next day, and continued to re-iterate his claim for days afterwards: That isn’t “misspeaking”, that’s intransigent bullshitting.

Elsewhere in Iraq on the day of McCain’s hour-long shopping trip one British and six American soldiers were killed as were five Iraqis with 26 wounded. But on the bright side only 20 bullet-ridden Iraqi bodies turned up in Baghdad instead of the recent pre-surge average of 50 per-day.

McCain thought that being able to be driven along the airport road in an armored convoy instead of being flown by helicopter was an encouraging sign of progress (after four years and thousands dead). But how does McCain reconcile his remarks with the reality of his visit?

"I can understand why [the Army] would provide me with that security, but I can tell you that if it had been two months ago and I'd asked to do it, they would have said, 'Under no circumstances whatsoever.' I view that as a sign of progress."

McCain’s trip wouldn’t have happened at all if General Petraeus hadn’t agreed to it—so was that his decision, or was he under orders to accommodate McCain?

McCain wasn’t visiting as a Senator engaged in oversight, conducting the people’s business, but as a presidential contender trying to justify a ridiculous campaign statement; this absurd, unnecessary exercise wasted many tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars and abused the military’s personnel, time and resources just to satisfy his petulance and ego.

We already have a president who fits that bill, we don’t need another. Indeed, we don't McCain in his present position either.