Monday, December 18, 2006

Schaudenfraude (Or John Kerry Visits Iraq)

After praising Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak, Senator John Kerry came to Iraq this weekend.

Before his arrival, rumors were already flowing that every FOB (Forward Operating Base) Commander told General Casey that they already had another "DV" (Distinguished Visitor) to support while Sen. Kerry was in country -- or that they would be in the middle of ongoing operations -- and hence were unable to support his visit. This rumor was either sparked or confirmed by a post by Matt on Blackfive. (Blackfive, for those who don't already read it, is an infinitely more interesting military blog than mine).

Hey, I just came from a meeting where they were trying to get some commander, any commander, in the Green Zone, to host Jawn Carri.

Swear to God, the CG is saying, "You can't tell me you ALL have things going on at that time! Come on!"

So, it appears that JF'nK will be coming to the Palace at the Embassy Annex and sitting around sucking up coffee at the Green Bean while we all try to ignore him.

Me, I'm gonna get a picture with him.

While in Iraq, things didn't get much better for Senator Kerry. Rumor has it that somebody gave his helicopter flights the designation "Weasel 61." (Legend has it that when Senator Clinton visited Afghanistan, her bird was assigned "Broomstick 11" as its code name). Before taking off, supposedly the helicopter pilot jumped out of the front seat while the rotor was turning (an extremely rare event), approached the rear of the bird, and asked Senator Kerry to autograph a copy of the photograph below:

To his everlasting credit, Senator Kerry was a good sport and actually signed it!!!

On Saturday night, a colleague emailed me and told me to bring my camera, as Senator Kerry was scheduled to give a press conference here in the Palace. At 2100, he entered a conference room wearing his leather flight jacket. Unfortunately, there was no media there, except for the enlisted soldiers from AFTN (Armed Forces Television Network) who had to be there. His aide looked around, saw that this just wasn't happening, and quickly escorted Kerry out before I could take a picture.

Finally, the next morning, Senator Kerry ate chow at the Dining Facility. Normally when a Senator/Representative visits, he is joined by a contingent of soldiers/Marines/airmen from his home state. Despite the fact that the MP unit responsible for Green Zone security is an Army Reserve unit from Massachusetts, not a single soldier went to sit with him. (By contrast, Bill O'Reilly, host of that terrible shoutfest on Fox, had over 400 soldiers waiting in line to meet him on Saturday).

Schaudenfraude is the German word for taking pleasure in somebody else's suffering. I don't know whether I should feel this or rather pity for Senator Kerry, who looked like a kid on his first day at a new school. I'm not sure what kind of a reception he expected to receive here given his "botched joke" before the election, but I'm debating whether to give him points for having the chutzpah to come to Iraq.