Men on the Street

MEN ON THE STREET….Was the Baghdad marketplace that John McCain visited on Sunday really “like a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime,” in the words of Rep. Mike Pence (R–Cloudcuckooland)? We already know it wasn’t, but Kirk Semple of the New York Times provides additional entertaining detail:

“What are they talking about?” Ali Jassim Faiyad, the owner of an electrical appliances shop in the market, said Monday. “The security procedures were abnormal!”

The delegation arrived at the market, which is called Shorja, on Sunday with more than 100 soldiers in armored Humvees — the equivalent of an entire company — and attack helicopters circled overhead, a senior American military official in Baghdad said. The soldiers redirected traffic from the area and restricted access to the Americans, witnesses said, and sharpshooters were posted on the roofs. The congressmen wore bulletproof vests throughout their hourlong visit.

“They paralyzed the market when they came,” Mr. Faiyad said during an interview in his shop on Monday. “This was only for the media.”

Hey, those Iraqi merchants are pretty sophisticated guys! And Faiyad is positively cheerful compared to the rest of the people Semple interviewed.

On the bright side, it turns out that Gen. Petraeus is a generous tipper.