By Patrick Appel

Here's a response to Malaki by Randy Scheunemann, McCain's foreign policy adviser, from earlier this evening:

The difference between John McCain and Barack Obama is that Barack Obama advocates an unconditional withdrawal that ignores the facts on the ground and the advice of our top military commanders. John McCain believes withdrawal must be based on conditions on the ground. Prime Minister Maliki has repeatedly affirmed the same view, and did so again today. Timing is not as important as whether we leave with victory and honor, which is of no apparent concern to Barack Obama. The fundamental truth remains that Senator McCain was right about the surge and Senator Obama was wrong. We would not be in the position to discuss a responsible withdrawal today if Senator Obama's views had prevailed.

Josh Marshall calls it pretty weak. It's certainly muddled. While Scheunemann paints Obama as committed to a fixed timetable and indifferent to the consequences of pulling out of Iraq, in reality Obama has consistently said conditions on the ground would inform his timeline for withdrawal. McCain may be able to argue he was right about the surge, but Obama can argue he was right about the war. Scheunemann seems to acknowledge that we're in a position to "discuss a responsible withdrawal," but he also says that "John McCain believes withdrawal must be based on conditions on the ground." If we're in a position to discuss a responsible withdrawal, doesn't that mean those conditions have largely been met?

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