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On Stooges

Matt Yglesias accuses me of the dread even-handedness for saying that conservatives and liberals are flip-flopping on Maliki:

[I]t's not some kind of crazy inconsistency to deride someone as a stooge while he's being a stooge, and then to stop deriding him when he stops being a stooge. I don't think anyone can deny that over the past couple of months Maliki has moved to a position more independent from the Bush administration.

Well, sure, Maliki's support for the surge was, in Yglesias's eyes, the act of a Bush stooge--because Yglesias opposed the surge. Just like Maliki's support for Obama's withdrawal timetable is, in Fred Kagan's eyes, the act of an Iranian stooge--because Kagan opposes that timetable. One man's stooge is another man's independent leader.

The truth is that Maliki is clearly a savvy politician who's doing everything he can to stay in power--and he'll make whatever alliances he needs to make in order to do so. It's obviously a very big deal that Maliki now deems it in his self-interest to stiff Bush (and McCain) in favor of Obama. But I don't think that makes Maliki any more--or less--of a stooge than he was a few months ago, no matter what Yglesias and Kagan say.

--Jason Zengerle