Under the headline of “Who Benefits From Iraq’s Demand for U.S. Troop Timetable?” several days ago I explored who might benefit and how. My third option seems to be the one coming true: the Bush administration has taken a big step to acknowledging Iraqi sovereignty, and moving toward a timetable for withdrawal.

From The New York Times:The United States and Iraq have agreed to set a “general time horizon” for the “further reduction of U.S. combat forces in Iraq” following the improvement in security conditions in the country, the White House said Friday. The breakthrough, … could lead to the successful completion of a long-term security agreement… by the end of this month….”

As I wrote, this step could neutralize Obama’s advantage without John McCain having to lift a finger.

One could surmise that the threat of an Obama presidency could have brought both Bush and al-Maliki together to reach an agreement. Politically, John McCain benefits from having Obama’s sharpest sword blunted somewhat. Al-Maliki benefits because an agreement now would be far less likely to be pre-empted by a harsher Obama deadline if elected.