IRAQ ‘CONSENSUS’…. The trio of John McCain, Joe Lieberman, and Lindsey Graham didn’t have much luck on the campaign trail this year, but they nevertheless believe they have an important contribution to make to the discourse: they have a plan for a way forward in Iraq. Indeed, they wrote an op-ed explaining that their vision can serve as the “consensus” position of all U.S. officials, including politicians in both parties.

Their pitch will probably sound pretty familiar:

Based on our observations and consultations in Baghdad, we are optimistic that President-elect Obama will be able to fulfill a major step of his plan for withdrawal next year by redeploying U.S. combat forces from Iraq’s cities while maintaining a residual force to train and mentor our Iraqi allies. We caution, however, that 2009 will be a pivotal year for Iraq, with provincial and then national elections whose secure and legitimate conduct depends on our continued engagement. By allowing a greater number of forces to remain in Iraq in the short term, we will be able to set the conditions for much deeper troop cuts thereafter. […]

Iraq can serve as an anchor of stability in the region, a counter to Iranian hegemony and a model of democracy for the Middle East.

This outcome is not yet guaranteed, even with all the success we have seen over the previous two years in Iraq. That is what makes it all the more important that Republicans and Democrats put aside the differences over Iraq that have divided us in the past. The president-elect has the chance to repair this breach in our politics by adopting a set of policies, resting on the best judgments of our commanders and diplomats on the ground, that all of us — Democrats and Republicans alike — will be able to support. We have high hopes that he will do so.

To make a long story short, all of the things the McCain/Lieberman/Graham trio believed before Nov. 4, they still believe now. If only Obama and his team would sign onto their vision, voila, there’d be a consensus.

A few thoughts here. First, there were some U.S. elections held pretty recently, they lost, and as McCain has reminded us from time to time over the years, elections have consequences.

Second, as Atrios noted yesterday, this search for an elusive “consensus” is itself misguided: “This Washington fetishization of everyone agreeing with each other is just weird. People disagree about stuff. I’d think people in politics would understand that.”

And third, Atrios’ observation notwithstanding, if there’s going to be a “consensus” view for the future of U.S. policy in Iraq, it seems to me it’s the Obama policy, which has not only been embraced by the electorate, but also Iraqi leaders, Bush’s Defense Secretary, and U.S. officials negotiating the terms of the recent status of forces agreement.

I know it’s asking a lot, but maybe McCain/Lieberman/Graham can give us a little quiet time now?

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.