The McCain campaign's response to Maliki's endorsement of a 16-month withdrawal can be summed up as "La la la la la Ia I can't hear you." Today, McCain foreign policy advisor Randy Scheunemann said "there were some translation problems" with Maliki's statement, even though the New York Times has produced and translated a verbatim transcript of the recorded interview. Scheunemann also asserts, "One inartful statement from from Prime Minister Maliki certainly does not change Iraqi government policy."

But the statement was clear as a bell. Also, as Chris points out, Maliki's spokesman has subsequently endorsed a 2010 withdrawal. I really wonder how much longer McCain can keep this up. (I'm imaging Scheunemann in mid-August: "A half-dozen inartful statements by Iraq's Prime Minister, a few signed letters plus a white paper and a legislative resolution do not change the fact...")

As long as I'm critiquing McCain's message of the day, I'll note that his new ad begins, "Who can you thank for rising prices at the pump? Obama, Obama." Are they really trying to convince voters that Obama, who has not yet been elected president and may never be, is responsible for rising fuel prices?

Putting these things together, it seems that McCain is trying to persuade Americans that the junior Senator from Illinois currently has total control over American energy policy, while the Prime Minister of Iraq has no influence whatsoever over Iraqi foreign policy.

--Jonathan Chait