Friday, April 06, 2007

John McCain | American Tragedy

From William Rivers Pitt at truthout. John McCain's descent into looneytunes.

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The American Tragedy of John McCain
--William Rivers Pitt

Arizona Sen. John McCain took a walk through a Baghdad market on April Fool's Day, and may well have burned his presidential campaign down to the ground in the process. That little stroll has visited upon his head a deluge of humiliation and shame vast and astonishing enough to beggar imagination, and that was before the bodies started hitting the ground.

Translated into mathematical terms, McCain's walk was Pythagorean in scope, squared hypocrisy added to squared idiocy equaling squared disgrace. In political terms, McCain's Baghdad walk was a full-blown, bull-moose, train-wreck disaster of truly galactic proportions: a veritable Hindenberg of campaign photo-op debacles. It was so mind-bendingly ugly and deranged and disgusting that the once-iconic "Dukakis in the Tank" blunder now seems quaint by comparison.

The genesis of this catastrophe, in case you missed it, was a verbal gaffe by McCain during a widely broadcast interview last week. After enduring several minutes of sharp interrogation regarding his staunch support of Bush, the war and the "surge," a neuron within his logic circuits apparently misfired. He claimed, with an entirely straight face, that the streets of Baghdad are today entirely safe for an American to walk down. This whopper made even the most shamelessly craven war apologists shake their heads in public, and forced McCain to undertake a desperate face-saving lunge to recover some shred of credibility.

McCain traveled to Baghdad to prove his claim correct, and the pictures appeared shortly thereafter. In the first available frames, the senator was shown walking through a Baghdad marketplace wearing a Kevlar vest, a general on his right and a troop on his left, and a second troop three steps ahead brandishing his rifle. While this kind of protection detail seemed to undermine his claims of safety, the escort and the vest could easily be understood as normal and necessary precautions taken to protect a visiting dignitary. For a time, McCain appeared to have made his point.

It didn't last. On the heels of those narrow-scope photos came reports of what McCain's entourage was actually comprised of. That "safe" Baghdad market had been flooded with more than one hundred battle-ready troops and armored Humvees. Three Blackhawk helicopters and two Apache attack helicopters roared overhead, and sharpshooters were posted on the surrounding rooftops. Simply put, McCain's "safe" street was one overly loud mouse-fart away from being paved with flaming lead during every step of that little walk.

To compound the calamity, a report emerged two days later describing the abduction and slaughter of 21 Iraqis who worked in the marketplace McCain's mini-Normandy force had stormed the previous Sunday, an obvious act of retribution for his visit by a violent Baghdad militia. Already belied by the revealed firepower he brought along, McCain's "safe" walk in Iraq led directly to yet another horrific Baghdad bloodbath. There is bad, there is awful, and then there is this thing, this quantum singularity of ignominy that bends the very light now shining upon it.
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