I've been thinking a lot about the game-changer of Maliki's endorsement the Obama withdrawal plan. Before this week, Obama had a double disadvantage on national security issues. First, he's a Democrat. That fact alone invokes a rich media narrative, decades old, concerning the candidate's intrinsic weakness. Secondly, Obama has only been on the national scene for four years or so, and is therefore seen as inexperienced.
Of course, there are excellent rebuttals to both of these points. First, I would say that Democrats have become the party of National Security because they have the judgment to have opposed this incomparably stupid war. Second, the experience of the "grownups" George W. Bush brought with him did not do us much good, did it? Once again, this emphasizes the importance of judgment over experience.
Of course, rational counter arguments, although convincing for those that pay attention, are much more difficult to disseminate than an easily understood narrative. In one climactic week, real-world events have swung that narrative stunningly in Obama's favor. McCain has followed Obama in finally calling for more troops in Afghanistan. President Bush has opened up a diplomatic office in Tehran for talks with the Iranians (appeasement be damned). Karzai says Obama will be an equally strong partner as McCain. And for the coup de grace, he unexpectedly received Maliki's endorsement! McCain has nothing left in his foreign policy deck. Obama is now the default candidate on national security issues.