One of the larger problems involved in trying to instill hope for representative democracy in the Middle East is the quaint Islamic/Arabist custom of defining the election process as "one man, one vote, one time". Egypt, Pakistan and Syria are good examples of the successful application of that custom (Pakistan isn't Arab but it sure is Islamist).
It appears that Maliki may be trying to follow his co-religionist cousins path in Iraq. Reading this article leaves me with a definite impression that Maliki's ties to Sadr are aimed at making Sadr's militia the "enforcer" for a dreamed of power grab. If true, it would be entirely unsurprising.
I wonder if toning down 'Stay the Course' rhetoric and dropping the noble lie of 'Religion of Peace' might be a prelude to engagement in Iraq in the religiously dictated muslim 'thugs and slaves' manner? Do we have an Attaturk waiting in the wings to instill democracy in the only way that has ever been successful in a muslim country?
If Maliki is hard of hearing, perhaps putting Sadr in the ground might provide a cure? It's worth a try - especially since the Iraqi Army is about two years away from being totally reliable.