Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Yet another McCain gaffe

Really, I'm not trying to pick on the guy. But he just keeps doing dumb things.

After claiming that parts of Baghdad were safe enough to walk around in, John McCain decided to prove his claim by flying to Baghdad and doing so, touring the Shorja market in the central part of the city.

"Never have I been able to drive from the airport, never have I been able to go out into the city like I did today. The American people are not getting the picture of all that is happening here," McCain said.

Wow. A U.S. senator is able to stroll the streets of Baghdad. Are things really that safe?


NBC’s Nightly News provided further details about McCain’s one-hour guided tour. He was accompanied by “100 American soldiers, with three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships overhead.”

He also arrived in an armored Humvee and wore a bullet-proof vest the entire time. I don't know what American cities he frequents, but I don't think any of that is standard procedure for most places in this country.

Now in one sense, the comparison is unfair, because he's an American VIP and thus a target of high interest to insurgents, and his point was more about what ordinary Iraqis have to deal with. George Clooney needs bodyguards to walk down a street in the United States; you and I don't.

Even by that standard, however, McCain's claims seem more fantasy than fact. Even while he was there, Iraqis disputed his assessment:

Amir Raheem, 32, a floor carpeting merchant at the Shorja market, disagreed with the upbeat assessment of the congressional visitors. "Just yesterday, an Iraqi soldier was shot in his shoulder by a sniper, and the day before, two civilians were shot by a sniper as well," he said.

He said Sunni insurgents routinely clashed with Shiite militiamen or with Iraqi soldiers and policemen in the area. "Everybody closes their shops by 2:30 p.m.," Raheem said.

Although the congressional delegation reported seeing crowds of Iraqis shopping in the market, Raheem said the number represented a sliver of the customers he used to see. "It is not even 10 percent of our work before the bombings, because people are afraid to come," he said.

Worse, he said, the closure of the main street by barriers has affected his business. If it was so safe, he said, "let them open the street, for the market has died since they put them there."

The snipers vacated the area when McCain's security phalanx visited. But the next day, they were back. Residents say they kill at least one person a day, on average.

Snipers: another thing you don't routinely encounter in American cities.

The surge seems to be producing some good results, though much of it is from such heavy-handed measures as barring car and truck traffic from busy streets to prevent car bombings. But McCain's assertions go so far beyond the bounds of what might be considered reality that you have to wonder just how firm is his grasp on that reality.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. It's amazing how much time and energy the liberal media like NBC has in making sure everyone believes it's not safe there.

4/04/2007 1:58 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

JP5: I don't notice them making a big deal of it except in context -- the monthly death totals, for instance, or "slice of life stories" -- or when a politician makes fatuous statements about it being about as safe as Detroit.

4/05/2007 9:42 AM  

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