The lighter side of Baghdad

Stories like this one in the Washington Post tempt me to give up partisan blogging and devote my efforts to “La Comedie Humaine.” Several House Democrats are complaining that when they visited Iraq this summer, military personnel had been given thumbnail biographies containing, among other things, their publicly expressed views about the situation in Iraq. In particular, the bios stated how the members had voted on legislation requiring the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq within 120 days of the bill’s enactment. They also contained a cross-section of the member’s positions — e.g., “the year of 2006 must be a year of significant transistion in Iraq” (Rep. Ellen Tauscher) and “things have been getting worse rather than better” (Rep. James Moran).
Providing this sort of basic information in advance of the meeting seems perfectly legitimate — it’s what we used to call “doing your homework.” However, according to the Post Tauscher and Moran took strong objection. Tauscher called it “being slimed in the Green Zone.”
How odd to characterize a recitation of one’s key vote and statements on Iraq as “being slimed.” If Tauscher’s thinking on Iraq embarrasses her, perhaps she should rethink the subject.
But that’s not the most amusing part of the story. That distinction belongs to this account of a meeting Tauscher, Moran and Republican Rep. Jon Porter had with Iraq’s national security adverser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie. According to the Post:

the three were trying to discuss the state of Iraqi security forces with al-Rubaie, but the large, flat-panel television set facing the official proved to be a distraction. Rubaie was watching children’s cartoons.
When Moran asked him to turn it off, Rubaie protested with a laugh and said, “But this is my favorite television show,” Moran recalled.
Porter confirmed the incident, although he tried to paint the scene in the best light, noting that at least they had electricity.

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