Josh and I were discussing a little while ago just how complete the Republican collapse on foreign policy has been in the short span of just a few weeks. It’s remarkable and hard to think of any recent historical parallels.
The implications for John McCain are hard to overstate, and Matt Yglesias gets it just right:
[McCain had] spent, several weeks with the main theme of his campaign being, quite literally, to criticize Barack Obama for not having been physically present in Iraq recently. This (of course) got Obama to go to Iraq, thus setting up a dilemma. Either Obama would survey the “progress” in Iraq and change his position, thus making him a flip-flopper, or else he would refuse to change his position, thus making him obstinate and out of touch with reality.
But instead of either of those things happening, Obama went to Iraq and Iraqi leaders said he’d been right all along! That’s about as close to “game, set, match” as you get in terms of real world events influencing your political campaign. What’s more, given the domestic situation and John McCain’s inability to talk about domestic issues persuasively, he can’t afford to play for a draw on Iraq.
This is what happens when you build your entire campaign on the shifting sands of Iraq.
Late Update: Spencer Ackerman has more.