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Tomgram: Robert Dreyfuss, Heck of a Job, Maliki!

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In some ways, amid the internecine bloodletting, torture, spiking American casualties, death-dealing confusion, and general mayhem, here's all you need to know about the Iraqi "government" of Nouri al-Maliki. When the Prime Minister wanted to check on whether he was going to hang onto his position, he didn't go to parliament or to the Iraqi people, he checked in with the President of the United States. What he needed, it turned out, was George Bush's vote of confidence.

Here's the exchange as White House Press spokesman Tony Snow described it:

"Q So he [Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki] is concerned about talk of a timetable for withdrawal, or any specific –

"MR. SNOW: It's not -- no, no, no, it's not a timetable for withdrawal. The way it was portrayed is, we're giving them two months, or we'll go for somebody else. This was a timetable for his government, not for withdrawal. So thank you for positing that.

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"Q Tony, is this stuff that came out of the [Senator John] Warner visit or –

"MR. SNOW: No, I think it's -- the answer is I'm not entirely sure, but I believe it refers to the report that said -- that there was a rumor that there were going to be attempts to replace him if certain things didn't happen in two months. And the President said the rumors are not true; we support you.

"Q The President initiated the call?

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