Sarah Palin's "Iraq Trip"—All the Way up to the Border

Does her visit to the border give her a deep understanding of the situation on the ground?


I asked last week whether Sarah Palin had herself ever been to Iraq, and a few readers chided me and explained that yes, she had. We now know that like so much else involving the governor, it's not that straightforward.

Given that it was her "trip of a lifetime," Sarah Palin and her aides seem to have an awfully tough time recalling its details. Like the fact that the Iraq leg of her trip consisted of going to a checkpoint at the Kuwait-Iraq border.

Yes, it seems that Sarah Palin has been to Iraq—perhaps a few feet into Iraq. Is that enough to pass the John McCain qualified-to-talk-about-Iraq test?

This from a piece by Bryan Bender in Saturday's Boston Globe :

Sarah Palin's visit to Iraq in 2007 consisted of a brief stop at a border crossing between Iraq and Kuwait, the vice presidential candidate's campaign said yesterday, in the second official revision of her only trip outside North America.

Following her selection last month as John McCain's running mate, aides said Palin had traveled to Ireland, Germany, Kuwait, and Iraq to meet with members of the Alaska National Guard. During that trip she was said to have visited a "military outpost" inside Iraq. The campaign has since repeated that Palin's foreign travel included an excursion into the Iraq battle zone.

But in response to queries about the details of her trip, campaign aides and National Guard officials in Alaska said by telephone yesterday that she did not venture beyond the Kuwait-Iraq border when she visited Khabari Alawazem Crossing, also known as "K-Crossing," on July 25, 2007.

Note that this is the second revision—the first was acknowledging that the Ireland leg of the trip was in fact just a fueling stop.

I ask again simply for the sake of amusement: John McCain spent weeks or months arguing that Barack Obama was unqualified to talk about Iraq because the Illinois senator had not been to the country recently and so did not have any sense of the situation on the ground. By that same logic, shouldn't Sarah Palin not be qualified to speak about the issue? Presumably her minutes by the border didn't impart her with great expertise on the ground situation.

Of course, the answer is that that line of attack was—like so much else coming from the McCain camp—not serious. It was a cheap and convenient political attack line.

And even if it was a serious criticism, applying it evenly would require a level of shame or conscience the McCain campaign sorely lacks.