McCain's Iraq Bind

By Patrick Appel

Marc's take on Maliki endorsing Obama's withdrawal timetable:

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...Via e-mail, a prominent Republican strategist who occasionally provides advice to the McCain campaign said, simply, "We're fucked."

A few weeks ago, Ross argued (somewhat persuasively) that McCain should run on the surge. In the last few days, the McCain campaign and his supporters began pursuing that strategy. An independent pro-McCain group, Let Freedom Ring, announced today it is going to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars running an ad attacking Obama over Iraq. And the McCain campaign put out a new TV ad along similar lines yesterday. But with Maliki backing Obama's Iraq strategy and Bush accepting time horizons, those ads feel tone-deaf.  Andrew's prediction yesterday, that "the McCain and Obama positions on Iraq will be as minimal as McCain can make them by November," seems especially prescient today.

[Update]: McCain campaign response:

"His domestic politics require him to be for us getting out," said a senior McCain campaign official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "The military says 'conditions based' and Maliki said 'conditions based' yesterday in the joint statement with Bush. Regardless, voters care about [the] military, not about Iraqi leaders."

That doesn't make McCain's position much more tenable. Larison has a typically insightful post in response.