Pretty Weak

July 19, 2008 6:39 p.m.

The McCain campaign has just come out with their response to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki’s endorsement of Obama’s withdrawal plan. I think the clotted, dodging-the-issue nature of the response communicates very clearly the box this has placed the McCain camp in.

ARLINGTON, VA — Today, McCain 2008 Senior Foreign Policy Advisor Randy Scheunemann issued the following statement:

“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.”

Got that? Rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Set aside for the moment that McCain doesn’t believe in withdrawal at all. Scheunemann is betting on our believing that Maliki himself doesn’t know what he means.

Late Update: CNN has finally picked up the Maliki statement story. There’s some effort to play it down but there’s only so much you can. It will be particularly interesting to see the response of the jejune Washington Post OpEd page.

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