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Timing Is Everything

As a follow up to Blake's post, consider the following timing: Yesterday at around 3am, Eastern Standard Time, America's new top general in Iraq gave his first big press conference in Baghdad.

Shortly thereafter, Secretary of State Rice's Senior Advisor on Iraq, Ambassador David Satterfield, held a press conference in Washington before departing last night for Baghdad to attend the "neighbors conference" that will take place in Iraq tomorrow -- an event intended not only for Iraq's new government to build support in the region but also to set the stage for ministerial level meetings in April.

Sandwiched in between these two events, yesterday morning the Speaker of the House held a press conference of her own to announce the Democrats' new plan for getting America out of Iraq. This plan demands that the President certify by July 1 that certain benchmarks in Iraq are being met. If he can't make such a certification, troop withdrawals would begin immediately and be completed by the end of this year. Curiously, the plan also demands troops begin leaving Iraq in March of 2008 and be fully out of Iraq by the end of August even if the President can certify progress is being made.

As I said last week, if Democrats have one vulnerability on Iraq, it's leaving the impression they want to see America fail. The timing of the Dems' announcement strikes me as getting somewhere in that vicinity, in so much they were willing to make, as Blake suggests, what amounts to a political bet predicated on the surge not succeeding right in the middle of news of America's top commanders and diplomats pushing forward and trying to build on some of the recent positive momentum there.

So why didn't the Dems announce their plan earlier in the week or postpone it until next week to avoid looking like they were intentionally stepping on Gen. Petraeus and preempting the diplomatic conference? Politics, of course. To maximize exposure and limit any response, it's probably not a coincidence the Dems waited to go before the cameras until the President was wheels up on Air Force One for a six day trip to Latin America.