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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: Iraq | International | Anti-War
Whom is John McCain trying to fool?
The stroll through a Baghdad market conducted by John McCain, the Arizona senator and 2008 presidential hopeful, along with a number of other Republicans, was a stage-managed farce that will convince no one. McCain, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Reps. Rick Renzi of Arizona and Mike Pence of Indiana walked through the Shorja market Sunday and afterward praised the “progress” being made by the US military in Iraq.
At a news conference, where he was questioned by skeptical journalists, McCain claimed that “Things are better, and there are encouraging signs.”
Surreally, Rep. Pence went so far as to comment, “I candidly was not prepared to find a marketplace where thousands and thousands of Iraqis were moving about in regular everyday life like a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime.”
Sen. Graham indicated that for him the Shorja visit was just another tourist adventure: “We went to the market and were warmly welcomed. I bought five rugs for five bucks.”
This farce has an element of derangement about it.
These are the conditions under which McCain and company took their little jaunt April 1: US soldiers entered the area before the American politicians, searched for explosives, sent informants among the people there, set up a perimeter and “secured” the neighborhood. Sharpshooters were deployed on rooftops.
The Republican delegation flew from the heavily-fortified Green Zone to a forward operating base in Baghdad, and then traveled by Humvee to the market. Once there, the politicians were accompanied by a “small army,” in the words of a Newsweek reporter, perhaps as many as 100 soldiers, while three Black Hawk helicopters and two Apache gunships patrolled the skies above.
Questioned after the stunt, local merchants ridiculed the visit. The Associated Press quoted Jaafar Moussa Thamir, a 42-year-old who sells electrical appliances. “They were just making fun of us and paid this visit just for their own interests,” he said. “Do they think that when they come and speak few Arabic words in a very bad manner it will make us love them? This country and its society have been destroyed because of them and I hope that they realized that during this visit.”
Thamir said “about 150 US soldiers and 20 Humvees” accompanied the delegation. “I didn’t care about him, I even turned my eyes away. What were they trying to tell us? They are just pretenders.”
By now, everyone’s heard of late night talk show host David Letterman’s infamous “Stupid Pet Tricks.” The routine was simple: Guests brought on animals that did unusual or silly things. Fans of the program probably remember such classics as the dog that sneezed on command or the one who answered the phone.
Letterman lost no time in cashing in on the popularity of that segment by debuting “Stupid Human Tricks.” But Letterman missed the best human performer of ridiculous shenanigans: Politicians, who technically are human but certainly deserve a category of their own. Two current Republican contenders for the White House would easily qualify for “stupid politician tricks:” U.S. Senator John McCain and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
Quoted in the Washington Post during a recent Republican delegation's tour of Baghdad, McCain tried his best to be George Bush’s lap dog. Accompanied by other conservative legislators, McCain declared that Americans are not seeing the “full picture” of our “progress” in Iraq.
According to McCain, murders are down and military outposts up. Explained the Arizona legislator: “Never have I been able to drive from the airport. Never have I been able to get out into the city as I was today.”