A scheduled dinner meeting between President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was canceled Wednesday, hours after 36 Iraqi politicians loyal to militant Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr withdrew from their government posts and denounced Bush as "the world's biggest evil."The cancellation "underscores how volatile Iraq has become" because he cancelled the meeting with us. America, the guys he owes his continued governance to, not to mention his continued life. To snub us so publicly, at the last minute, the threat posed by the boycotting Sadrmen must have been grave indeed - a threat large enough that he didn't think he could weather its stresses.
The White House denied that the delay was a snub by the Iraqi leader and insisted that "robust" talks would continue as planned on Thursday, despite the political turmoil in Baghdad and the leak of an administration memo detailing U.S. concerns about Maliki's ability to control sectarian violence.
The cancellation was clearly a surprise, however, and coupled with the withdrawal of the Sadrists who are a key part of Maliki's political base, it underscored how volatile Iraq has become as violence has reached record levels.
In other words, very bad news. Welcome to the parade.