Saturday, August 18, 2007

Gus Bilirakis Goes to Iraq for "Dog and Pony Show"

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past week here in District 9, you know two things about Congressman Gus Bilirakis -- He just went to Baghdad on his summer vacation, and he's getting his head buzzed to draw attention to the need for funding for cancer research.

I am certainly not going to knock cancer research, but I would like to point out that 44+ million Americans might not be able to reap the benefits of that research because they can't get healthcare in America. And some of that 44+ million are children that Gus voted against covering with the SCHIPS bill a couple of weeks ago.

Now about that trip to Baghdad. Is anyone but me noticing some eerily similar stories coming out of the mouths of those returning from Iraq these days? From war cheerleading think-tankers like Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack to Rep. Shelley Moore Capito to our very own Rep. Gus Bilirakis, things are still bad, but (surprise, surprise) there is progress being made! (links will be provided later)

In today's paper, Washington Post reporter Jonathan Finer pens an op-ed that spells out what these trips really are. Finer thinks Congressional Reps have a duty to visit the wars they are funding, but denies the importance of these trips for determining what is actually happening on the ground. Here's his recounting of a recent back and forth between Sen. Lindsay (Goober) Graham and Sen. James Webb on Meet the Press:
Last month on "Meet the Press," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a supporter of the war, chided his Democratic colleague James Webb. "Have you been to Iraq?" asked Graham, who has visited seven times.

"I've been a member of the military when the senators come in," replied Webb, who has not visited Iraq but fought in Vietnam during a long military career. "You know, you go see the dog-and-pony shows."

Well, our Gussie saw himself a dog and pony show.

In conclusion, Finer warns:
As Washington anticipates a September report assessing the troop surge, there is good reason to be skeptical of such snapshot accounts.

UPDATED - From Sunday's New York Times - Returning soldiers give us their thoughts:

No comments: