I've spent a couple hours now trying to process the probable impact of Prime Minister al Maliki's explicit endorsement of Barack Obama's 16 month timetable for withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. My first instinct is always to try not to overstate the impact of momentary developments. But I don't think it's enough to say this is a huge development. It's huger than that. In a stroke, I think, al Maliki has cut McCain off at the knees in a way I'm not sure his campaign strategy can recover from.Here's where TPM gets its quotations.
Consider McCain's strategy, which is all bound up with Iraq.
All understand it is a given that the war is unpopular and that the vast majority of Americans want out as soon as possible. The big of wiggle room is just what's 'possible.' McCain has invested his entire campaign in support for the purportedly nascent Iraqi democracy al Maliki represents and the claim that Obama's support for a timetable for withdrawal irresponsibly risks losing the gains we've achieved and giving Iraq back to al Qaeda.
Here, with a brush of the hand and in so many words, al Maliki says, "No, we're good."
That being the case, what oh what shall we make if this?
President Bush said today if the Iraqi government were to ask the United States to leave Iraq, he would grant the request.Now that, according to a recent poll from the LA Times, a majority (68% - a super-majority, actually) want the troops in Iraq to return either immediately (25%) or within a year or so (43%) and the Iraqi government actually agrees with Senator Obama's general outline to bring the troops home in 16 months or so, I wonder how many times we'll hear the Republicans regurgitate the line about how the Democrats support "surrender"?
"We are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government. This is a sovereign nation. Twelve million people went to the polls to approve a constitution. It's their government's choice,’’ the president said during a Rose Garden news conference. "If they were to say leave, we would leave."
Yea, you're probably right - the answer is "just as often."
Facts don't mean squat to them.