McCain dismisses Maliki timetable talk

Asked about Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki's call for a withdrawal timetable for U.S. troops, John McCain says it's just politics.

Published July 8, 2008 5:37PM (EDT)

On MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program (see video below), John McCain was asked about Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's call yesterday for a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops.

McCain first flatly asserted that the news contradicted what he had heard in direct talks with Iraqi officials. And then, tellingly, he concluded, before going into his standard Iraq rap: "Prime Minister Maliki is a politician."

Interestingly enough, according to a wire story: "Iraq's national security adviser said Tuesday his country will not accept any security deal with the United States unless it contains specific dates for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces." This "clarifying" statement was apparently made in response to suggestions from the White House that the "timetable" language in yesterday's news reports from Iraq represented some sort of translation error. "Specific dates for withdrawal" is certainly more emphatic than "timetable."

We don't know yet how the White House will respond to this new Iraqi rebuke. But John McCain's breezy dismissal of Maliki's new position as just politics helps explain why Iraqis are a mite sensitive about U.S. respect for that nation's sovereignty.

If you watch the McCain video, you'll also get to enjoy the candidate's efforts to dance around the question of whether the U.S. economy is, as 75 percent of Americans think, in recession. He "imagines" the economy may be, technically, in recession.

By Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is the managing editor of The Democratic Strategist, a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, and an online columnist for The New Republic.

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Iraq John Mccain R-ariz. Middle East