As he makes the rounds of TV and radio shows to castigate war critics, John McCain is arguing that people who think things are going badly in Iraq are operating on old information. In a radio interview Monday, McCain said that "there are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods, today." And in a CNN appearance Tuesday, McCain told Wolf Blitzer that he "ought to catch up on things." Even outside the Green Zone, McCain said, Iraq is safe enough that Gen. David Petraeus "goes out there almost every day in an unarmed Humvee."
Straight talk? You decide.
As Think Progress notes, CNN's John Roberts has checked with Petraeus' staff and learned that the general "never goes out in anything less than an up-armored Humvee." As for the neighborhoods where "you and I" could take a walk? As Roberts explained to McCain this morning, retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey has just returned from Iraq and says in a report that "no Iraqi government official, coalition soldier, diplomat, reporter, foreign NGO, nor contractor can walk the streets of Baghdad, nor Mosul, nor Kirkuk, nor Basra, nor Tikrit, nor Najaf, nor Ramadi -- without heavily armed protection."
So what does McCain have to say for himself now? "Well," he said when Roberts pressed him this morning, "I'm not saying that they could go without protection. The president goes around America with protection. So, certainly I didn't say that. The fact is that the neighborhoods are safer and every indicator of that, the number of bodies found, the number of deaths, the fact is we're making progress. It's still dangerous, it's still a long way to go, but the fact is that things have improved and much of that you do not get to the American people and that's just a fact."