Political theatre of the absurd

March madness in April

Last week, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) told Wolf Blitzer in his Situation Room on CNN that there were parts of Baghdad safe enough to take a stroll. This week he set out to prove it.

General Petraeus, Senator McCain
General Petraeus (left) and Senator McCain go shopping in Baghdad

General Petraeus took McCain, Senator Lindsay Graham (R-NC), Representative Mike Pence (R-IN), and others shopping at a market in Baghdad, where they were photographed wearing flak jackets but without helmets. Pence later said the market was "like a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime." "The most deeply moving thing for me," Pence said, "was to mix and mingle unfettered."

What they failed to mention while rhapsodizing about their excursion was that the market is fortified by blast walls; traffic was diverted from the area; they were surrounded by a hundred heavily armed soldiers; 3 Blackhawk helicopters and 2 Apache gunships were patrolling overhead; and sharpshooters were stationed on rooftops.

Now, if that's "like a normal outdoor market in Indiana" remind me never, ever to visit Indiana.

Clearly the straight-talk express has cracked up. McCain has gone from a truth-talking maverick to a delusional demoniac. When he was running against Bush back in 2000, I even gave money to the McCain campaign (and to the Bradley campaign), but his pandering and complete disconnect with reality have erased all respect for him.

Lindsay Graham, who had distinguished himself as one of the more rational Republicans in the Senate, is following down the same slippery slope by participating in this morally reprehensible charade.

For shame!

Pat Oliphant
Pat Oliphant