Reuters is the first with John McCain's attempt to show us all that Iraq is not as bad as everyone says it is..
McCain had laid the tracks for his message on Wolf Blitzer's Situation room and received a counter barrage from CNN's ground pounder Michael Ware. The other half of Baghdad's hottest danger journo couple Lara Logan is also famous for scorching critics for the media's lack of good news out of Iraq.
Ross Colvin documents 70 year-old Presidential candidate McCain's bizarro world view of Baghdad as a peaceful and prospering place. It's always irritating to the press when they are lectured on how they are not covering enough "good news" stories. So leave it to political candidates to invent good news stories in their ever escalating attempts to get face time. McCain goes big with his junket to Iraq and goes bigger with his unique view of post-surge Iraq;
"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. Things are better ... but I am not saying mission accomplished."McCain does not mention that the short drive along Route Irish has been shortened by extended the T-walls and secured areas. Visitors to Baghdad can pay $40 for the cab ride but they can normally spend between $1200 and $4000 for a private security convoy to make the one way, ten minute trip to the Green Zone. McCain goofed when he originally pointed to General Petraeus' "walk abouts" as being in "unarmed' (Slogger thinks he meant "unarmored") Humvee. His tactic of taunting journalist's like Blitzer to "catch up" trivializes their constant reporting on the death toll from car bombs (up 30%) and Iraqi deaths due to internecine violence. The "surge" has provided more troops pulled from around Iraq to lock down Baghdad and the Mehdi Militia has been laying low. The surge is good tactical move but it remains to be seen if Petraeus' ju-jitsu move against Iraq's center of gravity will knock the wind out of the multiple insurgent, criminal and militant groups long term. Most hope it will improve conditions in the capital but facts show that original estimates called for troop levels in the 400,000 level. Something even the combined forces of Iraqi and Coaltion efforts will never deliver.
McCain's overt headline grabbing via his Iraq based photo-ops require a contingent of U.S. military PSDs, advance teams, soldiers, air support and QRF's on standby, something that expats and Iraqis never have benefit of, nor could they afford. McCain seems to be mingling fantasy with reality. The junket's hour long trip to Shorja market for senior military and a posse of journalists was free of incidents and McCain took pains to lecture the media.
"Just as we read about all the negative events in Iraq the American people must be aware of the positive developments under this new plan, and the media has a responsibility to report all aspects of what is taking place."Last time Slogger checked Iraqi's or expats do not have the the full protection of the U.S. military senior staff and air support when they go shopping for carpets.
Tune in tomorrow when McCain's junket visits troops in the most dangerous province in Iraq for another hour-long dog and pony. Until then we encourage Senator McCain to actually stroll sans entourage down any Baghdad street (as I have many times since 2003) and tell us what fear really feels like. Iraqis do it everyday and to trivialize their dilemma is an insult to the American public.