The issue of whether Barack Obama should spend more time in Iraq seems to be gaining quite a bit of media traction. John McCain and the Republican National Committee are pushing the matter pretty aggressively, and media outlets seem to perceive this as a new issue that didn’t play a role in the Democratic nominating fight.
But as campaign talking points go, this remains pretty weak, media interest notwithstanding. For one thing, Obama is planning an overseas trip, including time in Iraq, fairly soon. For another, all of this talk is a reminder of just how little American VIPs learn during codel visits.
TP highlighted a discussion on the subject yesterday with CNN’s Baghdad correspondent, Michael Ware.
CNN has the whole transcript, but Ware’s whole take is worth considering in detail if you can’t watch video clips online.
“Senator McCain has been here, what, more than half a dozen times,” Ware said. “And we’ve seen him get assessments of Iraq terribly wrong. So I wouldn’t be hanging my hat on the fact that your opponent has only been here once.
“And let’s not forget what do American officials get to see? Well, they get to see the rooftops of a lot of Iraqi houses as they chopper over them or across vast expanses of desert. They get to see rooms in the inside of U.S. bases in the Green Zone, both of which are divorced from reality. And they’ll get inundated with military briefings."
This is consistent with what Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), a decorated combat veteran and a former Secretary of the Navy, said when he called visits from congressional delegations “dog and pony shows.”