Iraqi Visits: Much Ado but Few Epiphanies

Obama's pledged trip to Baghdad likely won't change his mind
By Clay Dillow,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 18, 2008 11:45 AM CDT
A well-protected U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman pays an Iraqi vendor for a pair of sunglasses at a market in the New Baghdad neighborhood last May.   (AP Photo/Sgt. Curt Cashour, US Army, HO)
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(Newser) – Lawmakers have been flocking to Iraq to assess the situation on the ground, as Barack Obama is about to do, but the visits rarely result in any revelations for them, writes Karen DeYoung in the Washington Post. The itineraries are fairly routine by now—meet the generals, the troops, and some Iraqi leaders; maybe visit the front lines—and "most seem to return even more convinced of the views they held before they left."

“They all want to do something cooler than the last guy did,” says one official at the US embassy. Obama's itinerary is a well-kept secret, but one thing's for sure: He's got some catching up to do with congressional visitors over the last 5 years. While John McCain has visited 8 times, even he trails the pack of Sen. Carl Levin (9), Sen. Jack Reed (11), Rep. Jim Marshall (11), and the big leader, Rep. Christopher Shays (16).