We knew 2012 wasn’t happening, obviously. Now it looks like there will never be a President Petraeus. Extremely poor judgment indeed.
Politico is reporting that Rep. Peter King (R-NY) is encouraging a potential bid for the presidency by Gen. David Petraeus.
Then he floated Petraeus: “He’s a serious guy… He’s about the only one out there who could really challenge Obama, who isn’t as strong as he was a few months ago… I think he’s an independent, and I haven’t talked to him about this, but I’d encourage him… I’d be open to it.”
The question the author has is whether King’s endorsement is a net plus or minus for the fledgling Petraeus would-be bid. The man’s a bit — how to put this? — volatile in front of the cameras. It’s not like Petraeus needs to bolster his toughness factor.
Notably, King says Petraeus is an Independent. What does he know?
Another day and three major new articles on a potential bid for the presidency by Gen. David Petraeus in 2012.
First, and most importantly, is an article by hawkish Democrat Peter Beinart of the Council on Foreign Relations suggesting Petraeus is Ike. We’ve heard this argument referenced before, but Beinart, well respected across both sides of the aisle, gives it new heft.
Pundits have mused about the Eisenhower-Petraeus comparison before, but the Afghanistan slugfest gives it new relevance. In the late Truman years, MacArthur, Joseph McCarthy, and the rest of the Republican right wing were a bit like Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck today. They succeeded in bloodying the Democrats and scaring the country about overseas threats. But their overseas warmongering and domestic radicalism made them too extreme to ever win national office themselves.
Ike was different. He exploited the right’s hysteria, and yet sailed above it at the same time. He refused to condemn McCarthy, and implied that he too believed that Truman’s containment policies constituted appeasement, but he maintained his calm, soothing tone. As a war hero who stood apart from the partisan brawling around him, he retained a personal brand far stronger than either party’s.
While many have pointed to Petraeus’ strength as a general and the political popularity that could arise from his being such a symbol of competence, few have theorized on the intra-Republican dynamics Petraeus would need to navigate — and could exploit.
[P]olitically, [Ike and Petraeus are] in a parallel position. Today’s GOP has a right-wing base that can damage Obama, but none of its favorites have a prayer of winning the White House. The reason is that just like the Republican right of the early 1950s, which kept insisting that the New Deal constituted socialism (or fascism), today’s conservative activists have not accommodated themselves to some basic shifts in public mood.
Another advantage for Petraeus, in the same vein, would be that he doesn’t have a long record of controversial positions that could be used against him. People might ascribe their favored positions to Petraeus, who would remain vague about where he stands. Competence you can believe in, if you will.
Our second major article is from former-McCain adviser Mark McKinnon who says Petraeus isn’t a plausible candidate. I’ll let him make the case,
Petraeus fulfills the Republicans’ perpetual desire for an authoritative father figure, but that’s a psychological issue among Republicans, not an actual job qualification. It’s hard to see what else recommends him for the job. Beyond that, it’s hard to see how he “did a great job in Iraq” really creates a public demand for a President Petraeus. If he’s won the fight for Iraq, then he’s rendered his major skill set (counterinsurgency warfare) obsolete.
I agree that Petraeus can’t run simply on his record on Iraq. But can’t Petraeus use his success there as an example of his character, extrapolating his potential to other areas? And aren’t Afghanistan and Iran issues with the easy potential to become election changers? Right now it’s 24-7 health care, health care, health care — but that could change pretty quick.
Finally, as a friend of the author notes, “McKinnon worked for the guy whose entire candidacy was based on the war and military service/sacrifice, and Petraeus basically salvaged what was left of McKinnon’s previous candidate.”
In other words, McCain’s candidacy is the one McKinnon is now saying can’t win. Further, it was only Petraeus’ success in Iraq the resurrected McCain’s disaster of a primary campaign from the grave. If readers will remember, McCain went down with a sinking Iraq ship, only to find himself newly popular when the Petraeus surge actually worked.
Our final article today regards an interview with former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.
Frist, Paul Bedard reports, says Petraeus will not run for president.
“He will not do it, is not interested in it,” the former senator says. “He has made clear to me and to others that he’s not interested, and I believe him.”
First of all, if Petraeus had plans to run for president, do you think he would tell Bill Frist? No, he wouldn’t. Secondly, denials from Petraeus are old news. We have him on the record denying it, so the fact that he would also deny it to once-prominent Republican politicians is entirely unsurprising.
Third, as Dick Morris said in a memorable column detailing the myriad failures of Frist as Majority Leader,
If Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) were still in his former occupation, he could well be sued by his 54 fellow Republicans, 99 senators, and the American people at large for malpractice. When he took the job as majority leader, I wrote in this space that the only thing in common between his new and old occupations was breaking ribs. But he failed to do even that!
Many believe Frist was a historically ineffective Majority Leader. Frist’s next stop is one of those National Journal front-of-the-book articles, “Whatever Happened to” so-and-so…
Anyway, the author digresses. The speculation is only mounting that the general who saved the war in Iraq will someday occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
The New York Times updates us on the burgeoning White House-Pentagon split over Afghanistan and how it relates to Gen. David Petraeus’ potential presidential bid in 2012,
No longer does [Petraeus] who oversees the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have one of the biggest voices at National Security Council meetings, as he did when Mr. Bush gave him 20 minutes during hourlong weekly sessions to present his views in live video feeds from Baghdad. No longer is the general, with the Capitol Hill contacts and web of e-mail relationships throughout Washington’s journalism establishment, testifying in media explosions before Congress, as he did in September 2007, when he gave 34 interviews in three days.
The change has fueled speculation in Washington about whether General Petraeus might seek the presidency in 2012. His advisers say that it is absurd — but in immediate policy terms, it means there is one less visible advocate for the military in the administration’s debate over whether to send up to 40,000 additional troops to Afghanistan.
Petraeus is lying low in part because his potential presidential bid “worries” political aides at the White House, the Times reports. The remarkable general’s closest aides say idea he’s running for president is “absurd,” but that the administration is “rightly” suspicious because of rampant speculation.
General Petraeus’s aides now privately call him “Dave the Dull,” and say he has largely muzzled himself from the fierce public debate about the war to avoid antagonizing the White House, which does not want pressure from military superstars and is wary of the general’s ambitions in particular.
The article says President Obama himself is not worried about Petraeus’ potential presidential bid, “at least according to one of his top advisers.”
The Times story offers important contributions to how the White House-Pentagon split is affecting a potential bid for the presidency from Gen. Petraeus.
For instance, the small chance Petraeus will run against Obama is seemingly terrifying the president’s political advisors — so much so that the man in charge of the Global War on Terror “overseas contingency operations” has to keep his head down. An American general in charge of two wars must lie low rather than face the wrath of Rahm “it through” Emanuel.
(”What the f*&#” are you doing? That’s terrible politics,” Emanuel, Obama’s Chief of Staff, said when presented with the Treasury Department’s considered plan to save our economy.)
And lets be clear here, Petraeus isn’t at fault. He’s never said he’s interested in running. All he’s ever done is successfully turn around a complete debacle in Iraq and continue the hard work in his new position of managing both that war and Afghanistan. But importantly, Petraeus is smart enough to navigate the petty political tyrants in the White House.
He knows how to make his way through minefields like this,” said Jack Keane, the former vice chief of staff of the Army.
Another interesting point from the Times article is that Petraeus’ aides are vehemently denying the speculation that he will run for President in 2012. What does that mean, exactly? We’ve heard denials from Petraeus before, but it hasn’t stopped speculation he will run. Why not? Because he is “the most political general of our generation,” as some have said?
“He understands the Congress better than any military commander I’ve ever met,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican, who said that General Petraeus had the nationwide influence to serve as a spokesman for the administration’s policy on the Afghan war.
Your correspondent’s opinion is that the speculation continues because Gen. David Petraeus is a beacon of competence when most citizens disdain the feckless political class that continues to enmesh Washington in silliness and scandals. With a man as successful as Petraeus, speculation is only bound to grow. Some hope the denials are not serious.
Tom Engelhardt of The Nation magazine’s Nation Institute is writing for CBS news that the White House-Pentagon split on Afghanistan could provide a “Petraeus moment” that could usher Gen. David Petraeus into a 2012 bid for the presidency.
Engelhardt, a hard leftist, reads the split and its potential with trepidation, fearing an unrestrained military overriding what should be civilian decisions. Surely it’s possible for differences of opinion to be aired between military and civilian authorities without the fall of the Republic, some might argue in response.
Nevertheless, Engelhardt’s analysis is interesting because he articulates the political dynamics of the Afghanistan situation and how it might hurt President Obama if he were to leave from or scale back Afghanistan.
Admittedly, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, 51% of Americans are against sending in more troops. (Who knows how they would react to a president who went on TV to announce that he had genuinely reconsidered?) Official Washington is another matter. For General Petraeus, who claims to have no political ambitions but is periodically mentioned as the Eisenhower of 2012, how potentially peachy to launch your campaign against the president who lost you the war.
Now, it looks as if we are about to have a civilian-military encounter of the first order in which Obama will indeed need to take responsibility for difficult actions (or the lack thereof). If a genuine clash heats up, expect more discussion of “MacArthur moments,” but this will not be Truman versus MacArthur redux, and not just because Petraeus seems to be a subtler political player than MacArthur ever was.
As Engelhardt notes, the political situation is complicated because Americans are tiring of the war. But even Engelhardt, the hard leftist, admits the situation could play in Petraeus’ favor by making Obama look weak. What is also worth noting is Engelhardt’s palpable fear of a Petraeus bid. Is his fear strictly of the dangers of military overreach, or does he fear how effective a Petraeus bid would be in contrast to the feckless political class most citizens loathe?
Ok, he doesn’t actually have the siren up. But the Drudge Report is speculating about Gen. David Petraeus’ political ambitions in 2012.
The link goes to drudgereport.com, something Mr. Drudge sometimes does, usually when a story he plans to link to has not yet come online.
What bombshell awaits us in the morning?
Things are getting mighty interesting!
What does the high profile conflict between President Obama and the Pentagon over Afghanistan mean for Petraeus’ potential 2012 bid for the presidency?
Well, the Intrade prediction markets doubled at the news. Does that tell you anything?
Simply put, Obama’s hesitance to provide the needed troops in Afghanistan is big potential trouble for the young, inexperienced president. To make matters worse for Obama, the Pentagon is leaking shocking documents that paint the picture for the media and everyone else.
What’s so interesting about this development is not just that Obama could look weak on foreign affairs, but that the battle could turn personal, if Petraeus is seen to be advocating more troops in Afghanistan.
Let me back up a second, first, to explain my analysis of Obama’s actions.
President Obama is preparing to withdraw from Afghanistan.
Sept. 1 – Mike Allen writes “White House fears liberal war pressure”.
White House officials are increasingly worried liberal, anti-war Democrats will demand a premature end to the Afghanistan war before President Barack Obama can show signs of progress in the eight-year conflict, according to senior administration sources.
Bear in mind, the White House put this issue on the map, by saying it fears the Left on the issue. I’m sure there were liberals in the Democratic party clamoring for the U.S. to get out of Afghanistan, but the White House created the political pressure from liberals in the public sphere by telling Mike Allen, an extremely influential reporter, about its “fears.”
But the Pentagon was of a different mind. No sooner had we heard about White House fears than comes the news: “Pentagon worried about Obama’s commitment to Afghanistan”.
Then, the bombshell! Someone, somewhere, gave Bob Woodward a classified 66-page report laying out the Pentagon case for more troops in Afghanistan. Giving Bob Woodward that report is like the last round of the Texas Hold ‘em World Series — the stakes are huge!
Meanwhile, Obama is giving the cold shoulder. There’s no “pending decision,” he told us.
Before I go any further, you may be asking yourself what this has to do with Petraeus, since McChrystal is the main man in this situation. While it’s true that McChrystal is the Pentagon’s point man on Afghanistan, Petraeus is basically his boss. Just because the skirmish is publicly between McChrystal and Obama at this point doesn’t mean Petraeus doesn’t come in at some point to play a major role. I mean, it’s ain’t his first rodeo, know what I mean?
Ok, so how does it all turn out? I can’t tell you for sure. The public is souring on Afghanistan, but premature evacuation could be politically deadly for Obama, who isn’t exactly looking like Mr. Tough Guy these days in foreign affairs. Americans want a strong leader.
I’ll leave you with this: who leaked Woodward the report? Politico reports,
A D.C. whodunit: Who leaked and why?
Bob Woodward’s Monday-morning exclusive on a 66-page report from Gen. Stanley McChrystal to President Barack Obama about Afghanistan policy was a rite of passage for the new administration: the first major national security leak and a sure sign that the celebrated Washington Post reporter has penetrated yet another administration.
…inside the White House and out, the leak touched off another familiar Washington ritual: speculation about the leaker’s identity and motives.
In 2000, his parachute failed.
In 2000, Petraeus suffered his second major injury, when, during a civilian skydiving jump, his parachute collapsed at low altitude due to a hook turn, resulting in a hard landing that broke his pelvis.
Two years ago tomorrow, we learned what many of us had suspected: Gen. David Petraeus has expressed interest in running for president. On Sept. 13, 2007, the London Independent reported that a senior Iraqi official recounted Petraeus discussing the matter with him,
The US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, expressed long-term interest in running for the US presidency when he was stationed in Baghdad, according to a senior Iraqi official who knew him at that time.
In retrospect, the article is interesting because it notes that,
“I asked him if he was planning to run in 2008 and he said, ‘No, that would be too soon’,” Mr Khadim, who now lives in London, said.
The author has himself wondered if 2012 is also “too soon.” Readers, any thoughts on 2012 vs. 2016?
Coming soon: an analysis of the withering Obama poll numbers and their import for a Petraeus 2012 run…
The American Conservative blog has a snide, snarky post on their “Post Right” blog by Jack Ross arguing Joe Scarborough — not Gen. David Petraeus — is the better and more probable candidate of the two. If you recall, a recent Politico article featured both as potential 2012 candidates.
Ross argues that Petraeus was once favored by neo-cons, but no longer,
[T]hey also talk up the tragic David Petraeus, not even as a sop to the neocons, who are totally over him, but to one-foot-in-the-graver Bob Dole.
To substantiate his point that the “tragic” Petraeus was a candidate favored by the neocons, Ross links to an old American Conservative article, “Sycophant Savior,” that looks rather shabby in retrospect.
Essentially, Andrew Bacevich argues in “Sycophant Savior” that not only was the situation in Iraq (in October 2007) not improving, but that Petraeus had squandered a major chance to build on any political momentum there was at the time to ask for more troops, who could have successfully pacified Iraq.
We know now that Petraeus largely did pacify Iraq. We know now that Petraeus is the Ben Bernanke of the Iraq war — the perfect man for the job who was able to rely on his unique training to turn the situation around. It’s not that Petraeus turned Iraq into a glistening modern liberal democracy — that was always a pipe dream. But he took his counterinsurgency training — which he literally wrote the book for — and dramatically decreased sectarian violence in that country.