By Patrick Appel
Ross's take on McCain's Iraq dilemma:
[McCain is] trying to claim that he, Bush and the Iraqi government are all on the same page about troop withdrawals and Obama's way out in left field, even as Maliki has moved toward Obama's position, the Bush Administration has moved toward Maliki's, and Obama has inched toward McCain's. There's still real daylight between two candidates, but the distinction between their respective Iraq policies is increasingly unclear to most voters, and increasingly finessable by the Obama camp. It's hard to see how McCain persuades the public that success or failure in Iraq is at stake in the difference between Obama's "refinable" timetable for getting America out of Iraq and the Bush-Maliki agreement on a "general time horizon" for withdrawal.
So what can McCain do? Recently, I argued that where Iraq is concerned, he should be running more on what the recent past - the success of the surge, and Obama's opposition to it - tells voters about which candidate they can trust on foreign affairs, and less on the specifics of what Obama's current position on timetables and withdrawal portends for the very immediate future. I think the events of the last week have made that advice look even better than it did. But they've also clarified, yet again, how badly McCain needs a domestic narrative - yes, even if it means looking to Hillary Clinton for inspiration.
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