Never Sadder: Watching Senator McCain Chuck In the Sponge

What next? Dennis Kucinich supporting a nuclear attack on Iran?

March 3, 2007 – Zurich ( – I just returned to Switzerland after my jaunt in the Middle East, saddened by what I witnessed in Iraq the this week. 

There was Senator John McCain, with a couple of other Republicans, telling the world that they had a wonderful time, secure and fun, in Shorja Market in Baghdad.

On reflection, I think I am more puzzled than angry – but, more than any other feeling, I am disappointed that John McCain, one of the few Republicans I have ever trusted with my family and my country, has somehow decided to throw in the towel, bend for it, surrender, and play the Bush-Rove puppet of deception.

When I was a lobbyist I knew that McCain staffers could be counted on to listen to new ideas, whatever they might be, with respect and interest not feigned.  These staff people, I felt, were a reflection of John McCain, the man – or at least I believed so for these many years.

Today, I am ravaged by the words coming from Mr. McCain’s mouth after his latest piffling "tour" of Baghdad.  I must say that I am nearly convinced he was tortured and chained in the airplane flying over to Iraq – brainwashed by some secret Cheney security team to not only make a 180-degree turn on the truth – his truth – but also to tell bald-faced lies to the American people about what he witnessed in Iraq.

John McCain is not a stupid man, so I cannot give him the same latitude I have always given George W. Bush.  I am sorry for this.  It is like losing an old friend.

Let me tell you the truth about the Shorja Market and Senator McCain’s travel to Baghdad.

Under Saddam Hussein, and before he rose to power, the Shorja Market was a bustling, colorful, happy place where Iraqis shopped and chatted, shared happiness and grief, knew each other well, showed off their children, and like all such places throughout the world. There was a certain indescribable energy present there from dawn to dusk.  It was not the terrible dictator Hussein who made it like this – it was the Iraqi small businessmen that were happy to spend their days tempting buyers with their wares.

Today, the marketplace is filled with pain and danger and the feeling that one must flee.

It is not a place where people smile and exchange cash for food or clothing. It is a place to run to and to run from as quickly as humanly possible.  It is a treacherous place – far more perilous than any place you might conceive.

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