Anatomy of the Right Wing Noise Machine: Maliki and Withdrawal

Election '08

As I'm slowly rotating back to blog life, I'm focusing on this Maliki/withdrawal story, because it's of course really important, but the response from the right-wing noise machine is important as well, in fact almost a microcosm of how they've reacted to any story that punctures their narrative over the last eight years.

Before this even happens, Bush has been forced into acknowledging a mealy-mouthed general time horizon for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. Then Maliki makes the comments to the German magazine Der Spiegel. It didn't get full recognition in the states until the White House accidentally emailed their entire reporter list the article when they intended to email their internal list to coordinate message. After the uproar, the White House and the McCain campaign claimed it was a mistranslation, but the audio tapes of the interview prove that the translation was correct.

But the interpreter for the interview works for Mr. Maliki's office, not the magazine. And in an audio recording of Mr. Maliki's interview that Der Spiegel provided to The New York Times, Mr. Maliki seemed to state a clear affinity for Mr. Obama's position, bringing it up on his own in an answer to a general question on troop presence.
The following is a direct translation from the Arabic of Mr. Maliki's comments by The Times: "Obama's remarks that -- if he takes office -- in 16 months he would withdraw the forces, we think that this period could increase or decrease a little, but that it could be suitable to end the presence of the forces in Iraq."
That having failed, the White House starts putting massive pressure on the Maliki government to walk back the comments. He responds with a sort of restatement, only it was put out by CENTCOM and not the independent Iraqi government. In the background, it's clear that Maliki is using the Presidential election to negotiate the best deal, and despite this pressure he won't really be that cooperative with Bush Administration entreaties to stop with the withdrawal talk. In fact, just today, the spokesman who walked back Maliki's comments walked them forward again, in ENGLISH, essentially re-endorsing Obama's withdrawal plan:

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