Jason Zengerle gets even-handed:
There’s no denying that liberals who once derided Maliki as a Bush administration stooge are now touting him as the authentic and sovereign voice of the Iraqi people; but conservatives are doing their own flip-flop as well.
I think that’s wrong in a whole bunch of ways. For one thing, it’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. Meanwhile, nobody’s “touting” Maliki as the “sovereign voice of the Iraqi people” but he is in fact the Prime Minister of the sovereign government of Iraq just as Hu Jintao is President of China whether or not he’s also the voice of the people. Last, the one thing everyone, right and left, agrees on about this is that Maliki is taking this position in part for political purposes. In other words, his position (and Obama’s) is popular among the Iraqi people.
Maliki is still Maliki — a fairly weak leader trying to hold onto power by hook or by crook. The significance of his government’s pro-timetable position has nothing to do with turning him into some kind of folk hero.