As reported in these pages, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has endorsed Barack Obama's 16-month withdrawal timetable.
The McCain Campaign is effectively over.
McCain had two rationales for his candidacy. The first is that he is a selfless war hero, who placed duty over self in the Hanoi Hilton. That image is partially tarnished by his kowtowing to people he called "agents of intolerance" (Pat Robertson, the late-Jerry Falwell, Pastor Hagee), his embrace of George W Bush and his policies, and the constant stream of sleazebags who he has called 'honorable', but who have had to exit his campaign. That is not to say that his heroism during his imprisonment will ever go away, but rather that he just does not seem to be the same man today as he was then, or even in 2000.
The second rationale is that he, somehow, was the man to pursue the Islamic terrorists. Barack Obama seized the bin Laden/Taliban national security mantra way back in the early days of the Democratic Primary debates, took a lot of criticism from his Democratic rivals and the Bush Administration for it, stuck by his position, and now has McCain following suit. Victory: Obama.
All McCain had then was Iraq, amazingly quoting bin Laden (without recognizing bin Laden's vested interest in disinformation to focus attention away from himself--and McCain is supposed to be the experienced one!!) that Iraq was the central theatre of the "war on terrorism" to prove that the US could not leave because of chaos, genocide and Islamic terrorism. That image, too, was tarnished by McCain's lack of clear understanding just who the enemy was, but he still staked claim to maintaining the "gains" made by the surge that, depending on the day, he either invented or supported or both.
With al-Maliki's statement, what is McCain to do now? Is he going to say that the US will stay even if the Iraqi government does not want us? If not, then is he willing to allow the descent into chaos and genocide he has been predicting?
About all McCain could say is that al-Maliki's statement would not have been possible without the surge. That is highly debatable. Obama could more rightly say that al-Maliki's statement would not have been possible if it were not for his candidacy--knowing that an Obama Presidency would mean the withdrawal of US troops, the Iraqis now have the incentive that Obama, John Kerry, Russ Feingold, and others have been promoting for years as the major change in policy necessary for Iraqis to begin resolving their differences.
Or not. But, not to allow the US to remain hostage to the decisions of Iraqi politicians.
Most important, however, is that the American people want the US involvement ended. Obama is far more trusted to end it than McCain. McCain's controversy over the wisdom of doing so has been rendered moot by al-Maliki.
Al-Maliki has moved the campaign discussion to "post-surge" policies.
Obama can say, "the only 3 people who remain wedded to a perpetual US engagement in Iraq are John McCain, George Bush and Dick Cheney, and, fortunately, the time for 2 of them to direct US policy is rapidly coming to an end".
What does McCain have left?
A gas-tax holiday that destroys infrastructure jobs and does nothing for gas prices? Continuing obstructionism on providing universal healthcare? Another set of taxcuts for the wealthy?
Watch for the man who claimed he wanted a "respectful campaign" to descend into a continuous barrage of mudslinging, and nothing more.
It is all he has left. And, when he does do it, his legacy will be forever tarnished.