Hit & Run

David Petraeus: The White House Years

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It's Patrick Cockburn and it's the Independent saying this, but some rumors are too good to ignore:

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.

Sabah Khadim, then a senior adviser at Iraq's Interior Ministry, says General Petraeus discussed with him his ambition when the general was head of training and recruitment of the Iraqi army in 2004-05.

"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.

General Petraeus has a reputation in the US Army for being a man of great ambition. If he succeeds in reversing America's apparent failure in Iraq, he would be a natural candidate for the White House in the presidential election in 2012.

But why not? We're in the thralls of Petraeusmania right now, and all we're missing are the screaming girls and a stalker who says the general was blinking out "I Heart You" in morse code. Ryan Grim reports that Republicans, having spent a lot of their time at the Petraeus hearings whining about MoveOn.org, are demanding Democrats denounce the group for an asking "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?"

On Wednesday, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) sent out messages targeting 34 House Democrats who have taken money from MoveOn.

"If Nick Lampson thinks MoveOn's tactics are wrong, he should give back every dollar they have raised for him," read one of the releases, directed at a Texas Democrat. Lampson called the NRCC attack "shameless" and professed "great respect for the service Gen. Petraeus has given our country."

Time was when pundits compared the Democrats to Charlie Brown, forever getting the football yanked away by Lucy. If the pessimists are right (again) and the surge's military impact fades away after the extra troops cycle out, we might need to dust off that metaphor for Republicans. They keep glomming on to military icons and the war and then getting smacked down by voters who are sick of it. Remember when John Kerry called the troops stupid and Republicans spent three crucial campaigning days beating him up for it? And remember how they subsequently lost the House and Senate? It wasn't the reason they lost, obviously, but they thought voters would reward them for "defending our brave troops," and voters didn't care because re-electing Republicans meant lengthening the war. (So did electing Democrats, but few realized this.)

UPDATE: From the statesmanlike John McCain:

At each stop, Mr. McCain brought out a mounted copy of a full-page advertisement that MoveOn.org, a liberal group, took out this week in The New York Times, which questioned Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commander in Iraq, asking if he was really "General Betray Us." "It's disgraceful," said an angry-sounding Mr. McCain, who called on all the Democratic presidential candidates to denounce the advertisement as well.

Straight talk, smooth lamination.