Poor George. Poor John. Hoist on their own petards.
Bush and McCain have become brothers in arms on the questions of continuing America’s occupation of Iraq, jointly sneering at Barack Obama’s pledge to withdraw our troops within 16 months of his taking office. Bush had derided Obama’s plan as an appeasement of terrorists, and McCain snapped that proposals to withdraw amount to “surrender.” We must stay the course,they shout, with McCain insisting that keeping our forces there for a hundred years “would be fine with me.”
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The only out that George and John have allowed is if the Iraqi government itself said it was time for us to go. Thinking this prospect was impossible, Bush had declared that if the Iraqis “were to say, ‘leave,’ we’ll leave.” McCain parroted the same disingenuous line, saying that if Iraq’s elected leaders ask us to withdraw, “I think it’s obvious that we would have to leave.”
Oops. Twice this month, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has done the “impossible,” demanding “a timetable” from Bush for “terminating the foreign presence on Iraqi lands and restoring full sovereignty.” Maliki added pointedly that he thinks Obama’s proposal of 16 months “would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal.”
Frantic, the Bushites tried to claim that Maliki’s remarks had been misinterpreted by the magazine that published them – but the magazine produced a recording of the interview, and Maliki’s message was clear. McCain, who has based his campaign on his support of Bush’s war, has now tried to downplay the desires of Iraq’s own government. A top McCain official sniffed that voters care about America’s leaders, “not about Iraqi leaders.”
I think receiving an invitation from the Iraqis to depart is a grand opportunity. Let’s declare “mission accomplished,” shake their hands, pack up, and head home.
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