Iraq Diary: on the Road with Air America

Although not as bumpy as the road the GOP encountered last night, I've hit some turbulence on the first day of my Iraq trip. With weather socked in on the East Coast, my US Airways flight out of our little Ithaca airport was cancelled. A quick phone call later I was on the road to Syracuse. For my sins I decided to listen to Air America all the way - the Stephanie Miller Show as it turned out. They spoke of being in "full gloat mode," and that was no overstatement. Multiple renditions of the "nah-nah-nah-nah, goodbye" song, endless repetitions of Paul Begala's slur of Rush Limbaugh, fantasies of Tom DeLay slipping in his own sick - a class act all around.

Oddly, I didn't find it getting under my skin much. After 12 years in the wilderness, I suppose it's just human nature for Dems to revel in the moment. Every dog has its day. Then again, on election night 1994 I don't recall the GOP revolution, welcome as it was, sending me into paroxysms of puerile chest-pounding. Sidenote: the Air Americans mocked the Fox & Friends cast's notion that, after all, many of the successful Dem candidates were of a moderate to conservative stripe. Miller & Co. are apparently expecting Pelosi to govern in accordance to what they gleefully referred to as her "San Francisco values."

I lugged about 75 pounds of gear from the outer reaches of the parking lot to the US Airway counter, only to encounter yet more cancellations. That raised the anxiety level a couple notches because our military flight has been moved up. We leave in the middle of the night tonight. I've just got to get myself to the Charleston AFB in time. A helpful agent found a route that, while convoluted and long, should get me there with time to spare. Now I just have to hope that my duffel bag containing my pack and body armor makes it through the three legs of the flight. When I see it roll down that conveyor belt in Charleston I'll be a happy man.

In the departure lounge I rolled a little tape on the camcorder shooting our puddle-jumper pictured here, and noticed a fellow glancing over. He was seated near me on board, and turned out to be an Army veteran of Iraq, He passed along lots of helpful tips and one somewhat disturbing one: "take a couple empty bottles on the C-5 flight - you'll see why!" Still pondering that one.

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