On his recent trip to Iraq, John McCain acted relentlessly upbeat about the outlook there, even as he mangled basic facts and inspired mockery from some in the media. That made me realize that McCain sounds more like the notorious “Baghdad Bob” every day.
Baghdad Bob, of course, was Saddam Hussein’s wacky minister of information, now immortalized on T-shirts, Web sites, and even a DVD for his optimistic, if fanciful, statements about Iraq’s triumph over the American infidels, right up to the point we toppled his boss’s statue. Baghdad Bob, real name Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf, somehow survived and later worked as an Arab TV commentator, sans trademark beret.
But McCain as “Bob”? Consider that in the previous month, there was a spike in violence, explosions, and casualties in Iraq, yet McCain barely seemed to notice. Now, since he left Iraq, another “surge” in killings is going on, yet he remains sunny about the whole thing.
Here are a few Baghdad Bob classics from the spring of 2003, verbatim (courtesy of one of his many Web shrines), uttered during the U.S. invasion. See if you can imagine them coming out of the mouth of our presumptive GOP nominee speaking to the press today.
“No, I am not scared, and neither should you be.”
“Be assured: Baghdad is safe, protected.”
“We are in control, they are not in control of anything, they don’t even control themselves!”
“They mock me for how I speak.”
“I have detailed information about the situation. They are achieving nothing; they are suffering from casualties. Those casualties are increasing, not decreasing.”
“They think that by killing civilians and trying to distort the feelings of the people they will win.”
“I blame al-Jazeera.”
“I would like to clarify a simple fact here: How can you lay siege to a whole country? Who is really under siege now?”
“We’re giving them a real lesson today. ‘Heavy’ doesn’t accurately describe the level of casualties we have inflicted.”
“Those are not Iraqis at all. Where did they bring them from?”
“The American press is all about lies! All they tell is lies, lies, and more lies!”
“Search for the truth. I tell you things and I always ask you to verify what I say.”
“This is unbiased: They are retreating on all fronts. Their effort is a subject of laughter throughout the world.”
“The force that was near the airport, this force was destroyed.”
“Our estimates are that none of them will come out alive unless they surrender to us quickly.”
“They hold no place in Iraq. This is an illusion.”
“Once again, I blame al-Jazeera. Please, make sure of what you say and do not play such a role.”
“These cowards have no morals. They have no shame about lying.”
“You can go and visit those places. Everything is okay. They are not in Najaf. They are nowhere. They are on the moon.”
“God made us victorious.”
“Rumsfeld, he needed to be hit on the head.”