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No Credit

I freely admit I thought the surge was going to be a disaster — at best a way of kicking the can down the road and delaying the inevitable implosion of Iraq.

But now that some genuine stability has been brought to bear in Iraq, why isn’t John McCain getting the credit he thinks he deserves.

Two reasons:

Petraeus. No matter how much McCain crows about it, the general is seen as the godfather of the surge. To the “New Jesus” goes all praise.

The endgame. Victory to John McCain has somehow become the same as staying. This wasn’t always the case. As late as last year he was rejecting the South Korean model for Iraq, saying we’d eventually need to come home.

I don’t know if the shift was the result of some neo-con/neo-colonial conversion on McCain’s part, or part of his election strategerie to paint Obama as a surrender monkey.

My guess is that it’s the latter — that even McCain didn’t really think the surge would get us to this point this quickly. He likely imagined that it would allow us to see a bit of daylight at the end of the tunnel. And then he could paint himself as the Churchill who would lead America with determination and grit toward a hardfought victory, and Obama as the white-flag waver eager to surrender Iraq to the chaotic forces of the evildoers.

But then events got away from him. Something spinnable as “victory” is now within reach. Al Maliki has endorsed Obama’s timetable, and even left open the possibility of accelerating our exit.

But McCain is sticking with Bush-like stubbornness to “Stay The Course” and is thus in no position to leverage the success of the surge.

The “judgment” fight that could have been McCain’s to win, now gets counted like this:

The decision to go to war: Obama

The decision to back the surge: McCain

The decision to take advantage of events, declare victory and go home: Obama

The welterweight wins on points: 2-to-1

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