John McCain and his aides bashed Barack Obama several times this week over his call to withdraw troops from Iraq, suggesting that the Democratic presidential contender should travel to the war zone with him to see “the facts on the ground.” Obama has dismissed the idea of a joint trip as a “publicity stunt,” but said that he was considering a trip to Iraq this summer. (The Boston Globe’s Political Intelligence blog)
What the commentators said
McCain’s idea for a joint trip with Obama “is one of the worst ideas I have heard in a long time,” said Karen Tumulty in Time’s Swampland blog. The security and logistical nightmare that would come with sending two presidential candidates into a “war zone is mind-boggling.” Still, it’s a good idea for our leaders to go to Iraq “in a way that maximizes the value and minimizes the fuss and distraction,” and Obama could benefit from seeing what’s changed since his last visit in 2006.
Obama should ignore “McCain's condescending offer” to show him around Iraq, said The Seattle Times in an editorial. Obama is right—“that is a political stunt” that is part of the “jolly time” McCain is having “pretending he is the only candidate with enough cachet and experience to lead the U.S. on military matters.” Obama should go to Iraq all right, but not with McCain as a “travel companion.” He should go as the candidate who’s right on Iraq, and the need to see how to end the war that McCain wants to continue.
That’s certainly “consistent with the Democrats' irrational commitment to failure,” said John Hinderaker in the blog Power Line. “Obama won't go to Iraq to size up the situation; to get our commanders' ideas on how to bring the mission to a successful conclusion; to hear from the thousands of service members who would tell him that their mission is critically important and should not be abandoned.” He’s only interested in seeing the difficulties our troops face and how to bring them home “in defeat.”
Obama indeed “might gain something” by going, said Jennifer Rubin in Commentary’s Contentions blog. He’ll at least “silence” the Republican drumbeat seeking to “embarrass” him for not having been to Iraq in more than two years. But he’ll give McCain the “upper hand” if he lets him “shame” him into making the visit.