They come back supporting the mission, that's what. Let me point out a few things about this article that Instapundit doesn't. First, it is probably important to note that the CSM registers this is a big difference between Iraq and Vietnam, where Congressional visits in-country eroded support for the war. But it is also important to note that they point out that during Vietnam members of Congress who visited the combat zone were far freer to roam where they wanted.
Only here's the irony. From their own reporting it is likely that if the members of Congress who visited Iraq were able to roam freely and interact with more Iraqis that they would return even more supportive than they are now.
For Chafee, a telling moment came as an Iraqi passenger in a passing bus gave the military convoy he was riding in a thumbs up. The impromptu gesture struck him. "My head kind of snapped around to see if I saw what I thought I saw, and I did," he says. At another stop, an elderly Iraqi woman signaled the convoy by placing her hand on her heart. "I think it was a gesture of respect," he said.
Second, Republicans are being encouraged to go. Fair enough. Hopefully that is truly in a spirit of fact finding and not cheer leading. Democrats are not being encouraged or discouraged, but are being encouraged to visit the wounded at Walter Reed? Come on. Have the courage of your convictions. If you're so sure the President's policy is a failure, go see for yourself and arm yourself with more evidence. If the Pentagon is pushing for Representatives to go, the Dems should be lining up around the block. To do otherwise makes it look as if they're afraid of finding out they're wrong.
One last thing. The article ends with a biting criticism about the way these trips are being run by Brookings expert (and Bush administration critic) Ivo Daalder. Aside from the fact that there simply are security issues involved -- God bless Congressman Shayes and his colleague, but they were able to get in and get around without protection in part by travelling in mufti -- the CSM should have identified Daalder as more than just a Brookings expert.
Ivo Daalder is one of Howard Dean's senior foreign policy advisors. When the topic is criticizing the way the administration is proceeding on anything pertinent to Iraq, that is information most readers would find relevant.
And by the way, if Daalder was right, the members wouldn't be coming back with lists of complaints about the way the mission is being pursued. Note this article says they are coming back supportive of the war and its purposes and its funding. But they're also coming back saying there isn't enough armor, enough vests, so on and so on and so forth.
Sounds like oversight to me.