USA local politics taking its toll on Afghan War


Tihar Jail
Oct 2, 2009
So Much for 'President Petraeus'

Obama aides fretted that the General Petraeus represented a potential challenger in 2012.


When President Obama had to decide who should replace General Stanley McChrystal in Afghanistan, the short list prepared for his consideration did not include General David Petraeus. It was Mr. Obama himself who apparently added the general's name and then summoned him for a 40-minute sitdown that led to the inevitable result -- the general saluting and agreeing to take on the onerous job of beating the Taliban.

As much as the appointment makes sense militarily (Gen. Petraeus successfully implemented the Iraq surge), it also makes political sense to a group of White House advisers eager to put the general at a safe distance from those who would tempt him to run for president in 2012.

Obama aides are known to have fretted that the general represented a potential challenger, one who could not be attacked in conventional political terms, much the way Eisenhower in 1952 bedeviled Democrats who couldn't afford to slur a national hero. While General Petraeus has disavowed any interest in politics, Democratic operatives noted with alarm his frequent speeches before Washington audiences, including the conservative American Enterprise Institute. They also knew he was registered as a Republican in New Hampshire, the site of the first presidential primary. The advantages of having New Hampshire as a home base for a GOP presidential bid cannot be underestimated.

Whatever President Obama's motives in selecting General Petraeus for an overseas posting, the move has convinced the general's informal supporters to back off -- for now. U.S. News & World Report notes that organizers of one Petraeus-for-President website are shifting their focus to 2016, when there is no chance their man would have to run against his former commander-in-chief. If Mr. Obama is reelected in 2012, the general's path would be further smoothed by an open contest for the GOP nomination.

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