Successful politicians aren’t just good at what they do; they’re lucky. Good things happen to them, magically. They stage events and the sun shines. They make mistakes and there’s a bigger piece of news on the same day that ensures the gaffe doesn’t become a major story. But in the annals of candidate luck, there has scarcely been a more fortuitous one than the gift handed to Barack Obama by Nouri al-Maliki in his interview with Der Spiegel. Clearly, Maliki didn’t intend to throw an incendiary device into the middle of the American presidential race by seeming to endorse Obama’s 16-month withdrawal plan; if he had, he would have spoken more clearly. But whether he meant he would like to have American troops out in 16 months or he needed them out in 16 months or that it would be nice if they were gone in 16 months if that were possible — none of that matters. Obama can fairly claim to have staked out a position acceptable to the legitimate government of Iraq. And with that, McCain’s job of convincing the American people that Obama is a novice who cannot be trusted to hold power just become far more difficult.