I think the “news analysis” features in the newspapers are a little bit per se absurd (it’s not an opinion! we swear! it’s analysis!) but Richard Oppel and Jeff Zeleny on Obama’s trip and the events in Iraq seems about spot-on to me. Still, I’m not sure even Oppel & Zeleny quite grasp the scope of McCain’s debacle here. He’d spent, several weeks with the main theme of his campaign being, quite literally, to criticize Barack Obama for not having been physically present in Iraq recently. This (of course) got Obama to go to Iraq, thus setting up a dilemma. Either Obama would survey the “progress” in Iraq and change his position, thus making him a flip-flopper, or else he would refuse to change his position, thus making him obstinate and out of touch with reality.
But instead of either of those things happening, Obama went to Iraq and Iraqi leaders said he’d been right all along! That’s about as close to “game, set, match” as you get in terms of real world events influencing your political campaign. What’s more, given the domestic situation and John McCain’s inability to talk about domestic issues persuasively, he can’t afford to play for a draw on Iraq.