One of the things I found interesting about the Congressman's comments was his tacit acceptance of the success of the troop surge in Iraq. Mr. Arcuri was a strident opponent of the surge, going so far as to issue a press release excoriating Gen. David Petraeus, yet he admits that the primary problem in Iraq today is political and not military. That certainly sounds like the surge did what it was intended to do, which probably isn't a surprise considering Gen. Petraeus, quite literally, wrote the book on counter-insurgency operations.
As to the fractious nature of the Iraqi government, I think Mr. Arcuri should place more emphasis on his own experiences during one of his much-publicized trips to Iraq. While he spent around two days in Iraq he also managed to squeeze in a three-day stay with his wife in beautiful Rome, Italy. You know, the capital of that boot-shaped European nation that has been through over 60 different parliamentary governments since World War II? The one where yet another government collapsed earlier this year? The country where underground tribal groups infiltrate the government, assassinate law enforcement officers and peacekeepers, and target journalists for elimination? The nation where entire regions are under the control of criminal terrorist organizations?
In Italy's case the "tribal groups" are the brutally effective 'Ndrangheta, Cosa Nostra, and affiliated crime families, not Al-Qaeda, but it's still interesting that Mr. Arcuri would consider Italy a vacation spot and Iraq a "political quagmire" when the former has a far longer, and more devastating, history of governmental instability.
Go take a listen for yourself. I'm sure I'll have some more thoughts on it once I've had a chance to hear the whole thing.
Update: A kind emailer points out that while Mr. Arcuri didn't take any questions from his constituents during this appearance he did promise to do so during his next one, sometime in August. Hopefully we'll also be able to question both Mr. Arcuri and his challenger Mr. Hanna with a few townhall-style debates in the near future.
Update: Another kind emailer points out that Mr. Arcuri is still refusing interview requests from Bill Keeler. Beyond that, his press official won't even return calls from Mr. Keeler's booking agent.
Update: Yet another kind emailer claims that the softball questions tossed by Dave Andrews, the primary interviewer in the WIBX segment, are the result of Mr. Andrews long-running relationship with Mr. Arcuri. I'm aware that Mr. Andrews worked for the Oneida County D.A.R.E program until he was fired for reasons I'm still not clear on, but I'd welcome any input clarifying the nature of the relationship, if any, between Mr. Andrews and Mr. Arcuri.
Update: One of Mr. Arcuri's justifications for his opposition to more oil drilling is that it would be ten years before we actually get any oil. I believe noted energy policy expert Jay Leno has addressed that concern:
Update: I've received some conflicting accounts about what caused Mr. Andrews firing from his position with the Oneida County D.A.R.E. program that might have a bearing on discussions about the interview. One of the problems I'm encountering with verifying the claims in those emails is that the Observer-Dispatch's archives from the Gannet years are no longer available online.