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I'm sure Sen. Kerry didn't do it on purpose, but his foot-in-mouth episode yesterday and today did manage to obscure one definite Bush victory in the axis of evil department and one more that may be a victory if things go OK.

The first victory was getting the North Koreans to re-engage on the talks aimed at keeping them off the nuke nation list. The NoKos have agreed to rejoin the six-party talks after the U.S. and China put on the squeeze.

That's good. Bush might take a small bow if he's feeling brave.

The second thing that happened was an order issued from the office of Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki, and somebody actually obeyed the order.

It is disconcerting that Maliki hasn't ordered the Mahdi Army, run by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, to stand down and stop the sectarian killings. But Maliki has now ordered the U.S. Army to dismantle its check points which ringed al-Sadr's neighborhood, called Sadr City.

The Shiites of Sadr City were celebrating and maybe the government of Maliki is gaining a small bit of credibility among its own people. Maybe the credibility gained by publicly ordering around the U.S. military will do some good, and now maybe Maliki will have the strength to order Sadr's militias to stand down. That would be very good.

The fear, of course, is that Maliki isn't interested in standing down Shiite militias. This is his chance to prove he is an Iraqi leader who is interested in a peaceful Iraq, not an Iraq where Shiites kill Sunnis and Sunnis kill Shiites because they hate each other and revenge rules.

Mark this day and we'll see how Maliki does.

In the meantime, Kerry. He's mad and he's not going to take it anymore.

I may have been wrong when I said the Democrats have this election in the bag. I didn't foresee the possibility that Kerry could single-handedly lose another election.

That's My Word.

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