The Drumbeat Grows Louder: Petraeus for President?
posted at 5:39 am on April 5, 2010 by Dafydd ab Hugh
I sincerely believe Gen. David Petraeus is sincere: He really, really, really doesn’t want to run for president.
But that’s not the point, is it? Who but a dyed in the rib politician would eagerly seek a job that requires one to be “on call” 24-7, for a minimum of four years and perhaps eight? That feels like being the molten material battered between hammer and anvil? Who but a career power-monger would actually enjoy being the last word on what Americans want, need, and shall get? Who but a certifiable loon could actually desire all that pressure, responsibility, accountability; all the lies, the remorse, the grief; the heavy weight of history, and the delicious poison of power?
The question with Petraeus is not whether he wants to do it, or is running to do it — but whether he would be willing to do it if prevailed upon by enough respected women and men on both sides the aisle. Despite all his denials and flat refusals, he has never yet said that he would not serve, even if his country desperately needed him.
Even the Daily Telegraph has noticed, in its article titled “David Petraeus for President: Run General, run”:
The problem is that Petraeus appears to have no desire to be commander-in-chief. His denials of any political ambition have come close to the famous statement by General William Sherman. The former American Civil War commander, rejecting the possibility of running for president in 1884 by stating: “I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected.”
Close, but no cigar. By the way, our chums across the “pond” (by which one means the Atlantic Ocean) appear to have taken that quotidian quotation from Bartlett’s, refusing to succumb to the more elegant version usually attributed — without citation — to William Tecumseh Sherman:
If drafted, I will not run; if nominated, I will not accept; if elected, I will not serve.
I don’t care if he didn’t actually say it that way; he should have.
The conundrum for Petraeus is this: If it becomes clear that Americans truly yearn for a non-politician as president — following the most political, partisan, and most unAmerican president in American history — how then can patriot Petraeus refuse? There literally is nobody else with his stature, nobody else whose reluctant acquiesence would instantly vault him to front-runner status and open the floodgates of campaign contributions. Beside David Petraeus, all other pretenders to the throne (including the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave) shrink to the stature of Miguelito Quixote Loveless… or for those with no cultural memory, the size of “Mini-Me.”
And yet — we don’t know the first thing about Petraeus’ political opinions! For all we now, he could be another Eric Shinseki or Colin Powell, eager to further the “Europeanization” of America and knife Republicans — and Tea-Party activists — in the back. Yet somehow, I doubt it; I think that if Gen. Petraeus were free to tell us what he truly believes, he would be neither a liberal nor a conservative, and certainly not a Dick Cheney “neoconservative” (which I mostly find myself being), but rather a Tea Partier… whose motto would be “Taxed Enough Already,” and who would be horrified by what the Left has done to his country.
I don’t know if he will come ’round to accepting the plea from hoi polloi and politico alike, or whether, like Caesar, he will refuse it three times. (I hope not the latter; it didn’t do J.C. a bit of good to be so dismissive.) But I have little enough interest in the professed and eager candidates already announced or rumored to be waiting in the wings that I would dearly love to roll the bones with Dr. Gen. David Howell Petraeus, PhD… if for no other reason than I would be bewitched, bothered, and bemused at the mismatch of the presidential debates between B.O. and CENTCOM.
Cross-posted on Big Lizards…