Is as follows:
Lost yesterday in the frenzy over Scott McClellan’s new book was McCain’s blistering attack on Obama over the fact that the Illinois senator hasn’t been to Iraq since 2006. Indeed, the RNC even released an online clock counting the days since Obama last visited the Middle East country. Then later in the day, the New York Times reported that Obama is considering a trip to Iraq; his campaign, in fact, has been discussing such a trip for weeks. Has McCain boxed Obama in on this issue — because if he does actually go to Iraq, will it look like McCain’s idea?
First, I can not be the only one who remembers this:
So John McCain, in order to prove his point that there are neighborhoods in Baghdad that an American can stroll through safely, tells reporters at a press conference that he just got back from a 1-hour walk around the city. Safe and sound! Though, oddly for a guy running for president, without any TV cameras around. Later it turns out that he visited….
Wait for it….
A market three minutes from the Green Zone. Wearing a bulletproof vest. Accompanied by over a hundred well-armed soldiers. Covered by three Blackhawk helicopters. And two Apache gunships.
The visit was tragically followed by this news a few days later:
The latest massacre of Iraqi children came as 21 Shia market workers were ambushed, bound and shot dead north of the capital. The victims came from the Baghdad market visited the previous day by John McCain, the US presidential candidate, who said that an American security plan in the capital was starting to show signs of progress.
Sometimes those fact-finding missions just aren’t what they are cracked up to be.
Second, this is not about time in theatre, because if it were we would be voting for General Petraeus, who has spent a helluva a lot more time in Iraq than John McCain. As have thousands of our guys on their third and fourth tours overseas since this fiasco started.
Finally, where do we even get the notion that the Commander-in-Chief even needs to visit the front lines? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it hurts, and I think when President Bush visited it definitely cheered up the troops- that is something they will remember forever.
But how many days did FDR spend on the front lines in France and Germany? What about Truman in Korea? Johnson and Nixon in Viet Nam? And I am not being snarky, I really don’t know how many days or even if they were on the front lines and am too lazy to research it right now (again, for all I know, FDR may have spent months operating out of a tent in Bastogne, although I think I would have heard about it), but even if they were I certainly don’t think it was used as the basis for why the public should vote for them or why their approach to the situation was better. Believe it or not, modern combat is slightly different from this, in which the Emperor actually was close to the front:
John McCain could set up his campaign headquarters in the Green Zone, and it wouldn’t make his ideas any better.