OCCAM�S RAZOR EXPLANATION. I think, Ezra, it�s all simpler than that.

They invaded Iraq. They didn�t expect a problem. They got a problem. Now they want out. But they want out provided two conditions are met in the process: 1. They can do it in such a way to make the Democrats look weak; 2. They can time it so as to maximize electoral benefit from announcement of withdrawal.

Ezra and Matt are making the mistake of discussing substantive factors. You�ve surely learned by now that there is no substance with these people. There is only politics. We will start to get out of Iraq, bit by bit, this September and October. By the end of 2007, a plan will be announced to ensure we�re substantially out (i.e., a 75 percent draw down or some such) by October 2008. You can set your watch by it.

Yardsticks of civic stability will be manipulated, just as intelligence was manipulated three and four years ago, to �prove� that Iraq is becoming a stable society at whatever moment the administration wants to trot out those statistics. The substance, and the consequences, will be something for the next administration to deal with.

Please, quit being so un-cynical!

--Michael Tomasky