“Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes…Of course, this is by no means an election endorsement. Who they choose as their president is the Americans’ business. But it’s the business of Iraqis to say what they want.” While much of the nation watched The Dark Knight, Iraqi prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki shook up our election considerably, perhaps even decisively, over the weekend by publicly backing Obama’s troop withdrawal plan in the German magazine Der Spiegel.
The Dubya White House immediately tried to lean on Al-Maliki to get him to walk back his remarks, but some hemming and hawing aside, they would seem to stand. In fact, they were reinforced today by Ali al-Dabbagh, Iraq’s government spokesman, upon Sen. Obama’s arrival to the region: “We are hoping that in 2010 that combat troops will withdraw from Iraq.“
In other words, even the Iraqis believe Obama is right and McCain is wrong on our future in Iraq. Which means the McCain campaign has just lost one of their critical tentpole issues, and has no place to go now except scream “surge, surge, surge.” “Via e-mail, a prominent Republican strategist who occasionally provides advice to the McCain campaign said, simply, ‘We’re f**ked.’“
Of course, McCain’s bleeding on the Iraq issue might be better staunched if he didn’t publicly refer to the non-existent Iraq-Pakistan border…