Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dog and Pony Show

One of the more brilliant suggestions of John McCain and his amen choir in the moron media is that Obama visit Iraq to “see how well the surge is working.” One can see why McCain would love to guide his Senate colleague around like a ditsy dachshund on a leash but the benefit for Obama seems a might bit hazy.

First off exactly what is there to see? We are going to have John and Barack skipping down the lane in Fallujah hand-in-hand? Not bloody likely. Not with out at least a battalion of soldiers and their air, ground and artillery support locked and loaded for bear. Not exactly the best way to meet and greet the unwashed masses of Iraqi. Come shake main gun muzzle of the M1A1 tank that the good Senator is encased in!

Barack can meet and greet our proud troops, goes the McCain talking point. He can hear first hand from them about our rousing success. Not really, first they are not troops; Ok? They are servicemembers. They are Airmen, Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers. They are the men and women of the armed forces of the United States of America. Troops are a large mass, an unidentified hoard, a faceless gathering of expendable parts. Our Servicemembers are the brave people who serve our country; who are members of our communities and of our nation. They are a part of us; we are part of them—got it?

So what can Barack glean from some quick grip-and-grin with a “typical servicemember?” Hard to say what would transpire because the chances of him meeting such a person are just about nil. First there are no “typical servicemembers” there are just the individuals in uniform who serve their nation. They are all different, with different ambitions, dreams, fears, hopes, challenges, and points of view. They are united by a common goal and a rock-solid commitment to the mission. They share a love of country and a devotion to their fellow servicemembers. Other than that, they differ on just about everything else. The Marine standing a forward artillery position is going to have a different point of view than the airmen fixing avionics at a repair bench. The tanker is not going to have the same ideas as the helicopter pilot. Even if they could talk openly and honestly they could only provide a limited view of the daily realities in Iraq.

Secondly, there is no way the Public Affairs Officer or any one else in the chain of command is going to let a Senator brush up against an unguarded moment. No, the servicemember will be handpicked and be thoroughly coached on what to say. The servicemember will be totally on message and singing the company song with force and gusto or there will be hell to pay.

Even more micro-managed will be the good senator’s meeting with any brass hats he may meet. The flag officers will be on message, they will have their presentations, briefings and talking points. They will be singing the praises of the surge. Military people are can-do people; give them a task and they will perform that task to the best of their ability. This trait has been amplified by five years of a Bush selection process that makes Darwin look like a dilettante. Anyone in a leadership position in the military who expressed the slightest of doubts about George W. Bush’s Iraq war has joined the Dodo bird in extinction. The top brass believes in the Surge, that is how they became the top brass. Barack Obama would have to dig way down into the bowels of the officer corps to find a contrarian position. Exactly when will he have time to find and to talk to that young Army Captain or Marine Corps Major who has a more “colorful” appraisal of the Surge? How would Barack mange the end run around all those minders guarding him from hearing something so “off message?” Would Obama’s campaign staff even want to have such a “gotcha” moment in the first place?

Other than some nifty visuals for the ever visuals starved corporate media, who gains from this? Not Obama, he can get the briefings and the power-point presentations delivered in the comfort of the Senate. He can easily meet and greet Iraq veterans at any whistle-stop in his campaign. He can get letters and e-mails from real servicemembers voicing real concerns from Iraq anytime he pleases. All he has to do is ask his staff for a random sampling. All he does by going to Iraq is bring the circus to town.

Obama will just be another V.I.P. given a dog-and-pony show like all the other Congressional fact-finding trips before him. We have witnessed this wasteful foolishness before. The worst example being John McCain’s market stroll. Our servicemembers really don’t have time for this silliness. They have an occupation to run. They have there fellow servicemembers to protect. They have a family to come back to. If our elected representatives really wanted to help all our brave men and women in Iraq they would stop having fact-finding missions to Iraq. Senator Obama please tell the media and John McCain this inconvenient truth—the best way to support the National Security interest of the United States is by getting out of Iraq not by some photo-op in Iraq.

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