On Saturday, Nouri al-Maliki endorsed — unprompted and by name — Barack Obama’s call for withdrawal from Iraq within 16 months to the German magazine Der Spiegel. In response, a sometime McCain consultant correctly observed to Marc Ambinder, "We’re fucked." The only hope for the McCain campaign, and for the White House, was to try to say that Maliki was incorrectly quoted, and so U.S. Central Command put out a statement citing Maliki spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh kinda-sorta saying that.
But the GOP consultant was right the first time. Today, al-Dabbagh — the very guy used by Centcom for Operation Maliki Walkback! — says, in English:
Iraq’s government spokesman is hopeful that U.S. combat forces could be out of the country by 2010.
Ali al-Dabbagh made the comments following a meeting in Baghdad on Monday between Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama, who arrived in Iraq earlier in the day.
The timeframe is similar to Obama’s proposal to pull back combat troops within 16 months. The Iraqi government has been trying to clarify its position on a possible troop withdrawal since al-Maliki was quoted in a German magazine last week saying he supported Obama’s timetable.
That’s via Adam Blickstein of Democracy Arsenal, who observes, "Pretty clear, huh?" Indeed it is. There’s nowhere left for McCain to go here. Either he endorses a timetable for withdrawal, which he has consistently said would be a disaster, and cedes his only big issue to Obama — and more importantly, concedes that Obama’s judgment is sound — or he deliberately ignores the concerted, expressed wishes of the Iraqi government in order to prolong an unpopular war.