â[With that level of military protection] even Paris Hilton could ride a bicycle in a bikini through Anbar province.â?
That was NBC Iraq correspondent Tom Aspell’s summary of the PR stunt from Republican presidential candidate John McCain, meant to prove a claim he made recently that as a result of the CoW’s surge it was now safe to walk through some areas of Baghdad.
McCain demonstrated just how safe a street-market was in the company of a US Congressional delegation, while flanked by 100 ground troops, wearing a bulletproof vest and overlooked by rooftop snipers, three Blackhawk helicopters and two Apache gunships, thus provoking Aspell’s remark.
Media coverage has been almost universally cavilling. Even Iraqhawking Fox News didn’t report McCain’s excursion sympathetically, peppering their report with accounts of military deaths occurring just before, during and after his trip to the market.