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Saturday, July 19, 2008



Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki's elicit endorsement of Obama's 16-month withdrawal plan has left my jaw agape all day long (politically speaking). I agreed with Obama's principle of phased withdrawal, if not necessarily his specificity - I was never fully sure that being so specific before "getting the facts on the ground", as John McCain often echoes in his talking points, was a good idea.

I've opposed the Second Iraq War since that fateful March day in which Bush decided that deposing a guy who tried to kill his daddy was more important than catching the guy who actually did kill thousands of innocent Americans on 9/11.

(And I never really bought the "break it, you bought it" Pottery Barn nonsense from Colin Powell; I don't remember breaking a damned thing - they needn't try to shift responsibility for what they screwed up on to the rest of the American people. Especially since the pre-emptive strike wasn't done in our interests in the first place.)

But now, the leader of the people who might have ostensibly benefitted from Saddam's downfall - a guy Bush basically installed - is now not only coming out in favor of a timetable for withdrawal, but the specific one that was suggested by the guy who wants us out of Iraq yesterday. Not exactly a subtle hint. So what are the neocons (and neo-neocons like John McCain, who might be a flaming communist hippie by 6pm tomorrow, judging by his constant inconstancy) to do with this news?

Bush, once again acting pre-emptively, decided yesterday that a "general time horizon" for Iraq withdrawal would be both worthy of consideration and a suitably Orwellian term for exactly what Obama proposed long ago.

We all know that McCain wants to stay. (After all, his buddies claim that the Muslims are all out to get us, and he didn't deny it.) But as recently as 2004, McCain claimed that American soldiers should leave Iraq if the Iraqis wanted them to leave. Having now turned that hypothetical into reality, McCain stubbornly refuses to admit that al-Maliki is serious, even going so far to claim that his lines were poorly translated. A pretty thin straw man, indeed.

The Republicans are making fools of themselves in an effort to continue a war that aiming to accomplish...what, exactly?

My former hometown mayor has it nailed:



We should have all realized this by now.

But as in the scientific phenomenon known as an event horizon, I feel as though this event mostly occurred within a vacuum, and is in serious danger of being missed by the general American public. It sounded like a cannon shot to the world at-large, but Americans may be hard-pressed to hear it over Heath Ledger's Joker laugh. (I'm not hating; I have tickets for Monday night. But still.)

The blogs are fired up about it, to be sure. Josh Marshall at TPM believes that it may be a game-changer, as does Marc Ambinder:
This could be one of those unexpected events that forever changes the way the world perceives an issue. Iraq's Prime Minister agrees with Obama, and there's no wiggle room or fudge factor. This puts John McCain in an extremely precarious spot: what's left to argue? to argue against Maliki would be to predicate that Iraqi sovereignty at this point means nothing. Obviously, our national interests aren't equivalent to Iraq's, but... Maliki isn't listening to the generals on the ground...but the "hasn't been to Iraq" line doesn't work here.

However, it seems as though the White House, which hilariously spread the news of al-Maliki's Obama praise to the media, is now trying to blunt the effects of the statement by pressuring him to retract it. CNN has the report of al-Maliki's spokesman saying, in essence, "Dude...totally not what he meant."

But Marshall says it probably won't matter.
I would not discount the possibility that the White House will muscle Maliki into a retraction of some sort. But I think it will be difficult for that to seem to be anything other than what it is. What he said pre-waterboarding will always appear more genuine than whatever statement came later. McCain may also say that his 'surge' strategy is what made all this possible. But fundamentally that's not a point Obama is arguing. The debate is about whether or not to leave. And on that count, Maliki has now placed McCain is an extremely precarious position.

Indeed. But much of the MSM seems to magnify Obama's faults and ignore McCain's - his personal press outfit, the Associated Press, went as far to spin this event to Obama's detriment). Will this be like so many McCain demerits that have seemingly occurred in an event horizon, unseen and left virtually unaccessible to an American public too busy looking for change in their couches to buy gas to check a blog?

If Maliki's support for Obama's plan happens on a summer weekend when America has no shortage of distractions, did it really happen?

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