Barack Obama’s White House campaign angrily denied Monday a report that he had secretly urged the Iraqis to postpone a deal to withdraw US troops until after November’s election.
In the New York Post, conservative Iranian-born columnist Amir Taheri quoted Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari as saying the Democrat made the demand when he visited Baghdad in July, while publicly demanding an early withdrawal.
“He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington,” Zebari said in an interview, according to Taheri.
But, I’m not quite sure the Obama campaign understands how a denial is supposed to work:
Obama’s national security spokeswoman Wendy Morigi said Taheri’s article bore “as much resemblance to the truth as a McCain campaign commercial.”
In fact, Obama had told the Iraqis that they should not rush through a “Strategic Framework Agreement” governing the future of US forces until after President George W. Bush leaves office, she said.
In the face of resistance from Bush, the Democrat has long said that any such agreement must be reviewed by the US Congress as it would tie a future administration’s hands on Iraq.
Recall that the central allegation of the report was precisely that Obama was trying to delay an agreement with Iraq until a new president takes office:
WHILE campaigning in public for a speedy withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, Sen. Barack Obama has tried in private to persuade Iraqi leaders to delay an agreement on a draw-down of the American military presence.
According to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Obama made his demand for delay a key theme of his discussions with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad in July.
“He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington,” Zebari said in an interview.
So the campaign is denying the report while confirming its substance.
BONUS: Finally, the chutzpah:
Obama said the president was belatedly coming round to his own way of thinking, but also accused Bush of “tinkering around the edges” and “kicking the can down the road to the next president.”
That’s the exact opposite of the truth. Bush is trying to strike an agreement with Iraq, while Obama wants him to kick the can down the road.
BONUS SNARK: Don’t we deserve a president who at least knows how to issue a bogus denial properly?
EXTRA BONUS SNARK: If the report bears “as much resemblance to the truth as a McCain campaign commercial,” maybe that reflects well on McCain campaign commercials.
UPDATE: Ed Morrissey has a few choice words.