Analyze This

Times opines from on high about Obama's quick stop in Iraq.

Lame-ass analysis from Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Jeff Zeleny in this morning's New York Times: "For Obama, a First Step Is Not a Misstep."

BAGHDAD — The Iraqi government on Monday left little doubt that it favors a withdrawal plan for American combat troops similar to what Senator Barack Obama has proposed, providing Mr. Obama with a potentially powerful political boost on a day he spent in Iraq working to fortify his credibility as a wartime leader.

After a day spent meeting Iraqi leaders and American military commanders, Mr. Obama seemed to have navigated one of the riskiest parts of a weeklong international trip without a noticeable hitch and to have gained a new opportunity to blunt attacks on his national security credentials by his Republican rival in the presidential race, Senator John McCain.

Whether by chance or by design, the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq chose a day when Mr. Obama was in the country to provide its clearest statement yet about its views on the withdrawal of American troops. After a weekend of dispute about precisely what Mr. Maliki was suggesting, his spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, told reporters in Baghdad, “We cannot give any timetables or dates, but the Iraqi government believes the end of 2010 is the appropriate time for the withdrawal.”

Oh, please.

For one thing, what Obama's doing right now — stepping into the Arab/Jew quagmire in Jerusalem — is a hell of a lot riskier, both personally and politically.

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And this analysis gives us the less-than-startling news that the Iraqi government, which is after all a puppet regime practically installed by the U.S., wants us out.

Yes, it's true that the current Iraqi regime is a little like Cliff Robertson's rebellious puppet in the classic Twilight Zone episode "The Dummy."

But as long as the thousands upon thousands of U.S. troops occupy Vietraq, the Nouri Maliki government will at least publicly protest our seemingly permanent presence. As long as we're there, Maliki's government is nowhere, as far as many Iraqis are concerned.

More pompous windbaggery from the Times story:

The central tenet of Mr. Obama’s foreign policy is suddenly aligned with what the Iraqis themselves now increasingly seem to want. Not only have the developments offered Mr. Obama a measure of credibility as a prospective world leader in a week when his every move is receiving intensive attention at home and abroad, but it has complicated Mr. McCain’s leading argument against him: that a withdrawal timeline would be tantamount to surrender and would leave Iraqis in dangerous straits.

Mr. McCain is hardly conceding the point. He continued to hammer away at Mr. Obama’s judgment on national security, saying on Monday that Mr. Obama had gotten it badly wrong when he opposed sending additional American troops last year to help stabilize Iraq. Republicans said Iraq would never have reached the point where it could reasonably call for a reduction in the American presence without the troop increase, a policy championed by Mr. McCain over the objections of Mr. Obama and most other Democrats.

"Suddenly aligned"? Any call by any candidate for withdrawal will get the public OK from Maliki's regime so it can finally try to cut its strings to the U.S. Of course, once we leave, Maliki's regime will collapse. But that's another story.

If this feeble analysis is what the Times is serving up, it should let McCain's staff run that op-ed piece.

In other news: Jesse Helms is still dead.

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