MR. TODD: Republicans are panicked about this trip because they think that this is going to be a home run. And arguably, you've got some Obama folks who actually think he ought to come home right now. It's never going to get as good as it's gotten in the last 48 hours. You've got McCain suddenly in the White House parroting what Obama has been saying in Afghanistan. The McCain folks will say, "Hey, we're not parroting. We've been there before." But they clearly caught McCain flat-footed there. And then what Maliki did, even in the backtrack statement that the spokes--the government spokesperson over there said, he threw in the word "timetable."
In order to really appreciate the importance of the Maliki development, consider what would happen if the opposite occured:
To really understand the importance of Maliki's comments, you need to consider their opposite. Imagine if Maliki had walked in front of the cameras and said, "at this stage, a timetable for withdrawal is unrealistic, and we hope our American friends will not bow to domestic political pressures and be hasty in leaving Iraq just as the country improves." It would be a transformative moment in this election. John McCain would talk of nothing else. The cable shows would talk of nothing else. Magazines would run thousands of covers about "Obama's Iraq Problem." Obama would probably lose the race.