Iraq Demanding Obama-like Timeline from US

Reuters has the story:

The United States must provide a "very clear timeline" to withdraw its troops from Iraq as part of an agreement allowing them to stay beyond this year, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said on Sunday.

It was the strongest public assertion yet that Iraq is demanding a timeline. U.S. President George W. Bush has long resisted setting a firm schedule for pulling troops out of Iraq, although last month the White House began speaking of a general "time horizon" and "aspirational goals" to withdraw.


[Zebari] would not be drawn on the precise dates that Iraqi negotiators are seeking for withdrawal, saying the document was not yet final. Iraqi officials have said they would like to see all combat troops out by October 2010.

An agreement that included that date would require the Bush administration effectively to accept a timeline almost identical to the one proposed by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, who opposed the 2003 invasion.

I'm not banking on the establishment media to seriously call the Bush administration -- or John McCain, who is seeking to extend the Bush administration for another four to eight years -- on the increasingly clear statements from the Iraqi government and people that like the American people they want to see U.S. military forces on their way out of Iraq. But in an alternative universe in which Republicans weren't given a leg up at every turn by the Beltway press, you could imagine this having an impact on the presidential race and the way that reporters cover it.

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McCain Failing to Move the Numbers in Key Kerry States

John McCain has been investing big dollars on advertising in both Michigan and Pennsylvania, outspending Barack Obama in the two states, both of which John Kerry won in 2004 -- and which are key to Obama's electoral strategy. And just how are McCain's efforts coming along? The latest numbers out of Michigan can't be too reassuring for the GOP.

Barack Obama still holds a solid 47% to 40% lead over John McCain in the key battleground state of Michigan, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of voters there.

The trend out of Michigan, as captured by, doesn't look any better.

Yes, that appears to show Obama moving noticeably and consistently upward in the state and McCain failing to move his numbers even an inch. How about Pennsylvania?

In the Keystone state, Obama continues to see a similarly upward facing trajectory as he is experiencing in Michigan. However, unlike Michigan, in which McCain's numbers are at least staying flat at a time when he is outspending Obama in the state, in Pennsylvania, McCain's numbers are actually moving South.


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Ambinder: McCain Has a White Male Problem

Remember how Barack Obama was supposed to have been uniquely weak among White voters -- despite the fact that he runs ahead of both John Kerry and Al Gore among the demographic? Well, it turns out that it isn't Obama who is having the real problem with White voters, it's John McCain. Here's Marc Ambinder:

The Gap -- And There Really Is Only One Gap

It's white males. McCain wins them by double digits, he wins the election (probably). Obama keeps the margin to ten points or less, then he wins the election (probably). Time's latest polling gives McCain a seven point lead in that group with leanrers factored in. Even with a 3% percentage point racial premium fudge factor, it helps explain why Obama still leads. McCain is underperforming right now among white males.

Time magazine might spin a 5-point Obama lead as ominous for the Democrats' chances at the White House, and others might think that his 6-point lead in the latest CBS News also bodes poorly for him. In fact, despite the fact that Obama has led in virtually every national poll in the last two and a half months or so -- you can count on one hand the number of surveys in which McCain has led, and not all of them are particularly reputable -- and that Obama holds a a significant lead in the electoral college count almost regardless of whom you ask, it must be that it's Obama, and not McCain, who has got to figure out how to connect with voters. Unless, of course, it's not the numbers lying but folks in the establishment media misreading them, and it is McCain who is underperforming among key GOP demographics (including White men), who is struggling in the polls, and who is having difficulty cobbling together 270 electoral votes.

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John McCain Backs Down on Tire Gauges

It's bad enough when your machinations on the issue of energy get torn to shreds by Paris Hilton. Now, per Reuters, McCain has been forced to back down on the supremely stupid fracas over tire gauges.

Republican John McCain appeared to back down on Tuesday in his dispute with his opponent Barack Obama over tire pressure.


The surprise came during a telephone town hall meeting McCain held on Tuesday with voters in Pennsylvania.

"Obama said a couple of days ago says we all should inflate our tires. I don't disagree with that. The American Automobile Association strongly recommends it," McCain said.

But he kept up his broad criticism of Obama on energy: "I ... don't think that that (inflating tires) is a way to become energy independent."

The McCain campaign appears intent on trying to win the daily media battles -- even to the bane of crafting a broader narrative on what their campaign is about, what their candidate stands for, and what type of President he would be. I've always thought this to be a risky strategy; as much as the daily ups and downs affect the ultimate outcome, in the end voters decide on the feelings they have on a candidate, which stem not only from the back and forth but even more from events like the debates and the conventions.

But it is a tremendously risky strategy when the meme starts to take hold that a candidate will say anything -- even things that he distances himself from just days later -- to get elected. We've already seen this from McCain, who has changed his position on almost every single major (and even minor) issue facing the country, and whose campaign has been forced to walk back criticisms of Obama (think the visit to the military base in Germany or the claims about Obama's tax plan that were exposed as wholly false). Now McCain is being forced to back away from yet another claim, again feeding the story line that he will say anything (even claims he must walk back just days later) to become President. And as this meme takes hold, it gets that much more difficult for McCain to claw his way to the White House.

Update [2008-8-6 11:3:37 by Josh Orton]: And Obama turns it back on him:

"While we’re on the subject of Senator McCain contradicting himself," [Obama] said, and outlined his own suggestion, mocked by the GOP, that Americans keep their tires inflated, and McCain's concession that it's reasonable.

"In the coming days it’s going to be interesting to watch this debate between John McCain and John McCain," he said.

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Alaska Troubles for John McCain

It's never a good sign when a party's top surrogate in a state talks up the standard-bearer of the other party. Think Gordon Smith trying to cozy up to Barack Obama and John Kerry in his latest ad campaign -- a sign not only that the Republican Senator believes that he is in jeopardy in Oregon but also that the Beaver state really isn't in play on the presidential level this year, either.

Oregon isn't the only state in which this is occurring for the Republicans. Take a look at what's going on in Alaska:

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin -- occasionally mentioned as a McCain vice presidential prospect -- has put out a press release praising Obama's energy plan.

Alaska energy politics seem to trump national politics here, though it's also interesting to see a red(dish) state Republican so willing to associate herself with the Democratic nominee.

"I am pleased to see Senator Obama acknowledge the huge potential Alaska's natural gas reserves represent in terms of clean energy and sound jobs," Palin says in the release. "The steps taken by the Alaska State Legislature this past week demonstrate that we are ready, willing and able to supply the energy our nation needs."

This story says quite a bit about the state of affairs in Alaska. The sitting GOP Governor, who prior to the new investigation into her alleged improprieties sported an 80 percent favorable rating, finds that she needs to sidle up to the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee in a state whose electoral votes have gone Republican in the last 10 elections... that can't be good.

Does this mean that Alaska is already a swing state on the presidential level? Not necessarily. But this move by Palin says at least as much about the politics in the state today -- the rise of the Democrats, particularly Obama, and the decline of the GOP -- as does the composite of recent polling, which shows McCain with an unimpressive 49 percent to 42.9 percent lead over his Democratic rival.

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