Green Room

The Drumbeat Grows Louder: Petraeus for President?

posted at 5:39 am on April 5, 2010 by

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.

Gen. David Petraeus

General confusion

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

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Petraeus calls himself an Eisenhower Republican, no? That’s not Tea Party territory. That’s Powell territory.

tigerinexile on April 5, 2010 at 6:18 AM

I can see the NY Times headline now: President Betrayus?

Daggett on April 5, 2010 at 8:07 AM

1 guy writing a column and the collective media going bat-sh*t crazy about it does not a drum-beat make.

Besides, we went over this a few months back when Obama couldn’t decide what to do with Afghanistan.

uknowmorethanme on April 5, 2010 at 9:35 AM

Let’s see Iraq and Afghanistan not fall apart into total basketcases by spring 2012, and then we’ll see.

joe_doufu on April 5, 2010 at 11:10 AM

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.

We do not know. He may not even be Republican in general. I just do not see him as a conservative, his war making method is to quell the masses and control the populace, and while it may just be for war that he does so, who is to say that it is not in his nature to continue to need this level of control? I would not trust him today with the title of Mayor, not until he starts to open up and show us who he really is.

astonerii on April 5, 2010 at 12:36 PM

while the upper ranks of the military are rather political, there are not many outside signs that say what a given General believes. This is helpful in some ways because it both gives the Armed Forces an apolitical feel, and because it allows the Generals to serve Presidents they may strongly disagree with, with both politely ignoring the disagreement.

Yes, Generals more politically aligned with Presidents will tend to move up, but that doesn’t mean everyone who moves up is so aligned – some are better at others at ducking questions and playing chameleon or possum.

Long way ’round – we don’t know where Petraeus stands, and we should know before we start talking about him as a candidate.

Mew

acat on April 5, 2010 at 1:29 PM

The drumbeat you hear is from people who do not want a conservative as president
The whole premise is just stupid and naive.. we need a non politician president.
No such thing except in little kids imagination.
We need a hard core conservative not a John mcain or a john mcain jr or whatever flavor of compassionate conservative someone dreams up.
We need to defeat our enemies and our enemies are inside the gate.

kangjie on April 5, 2010 at 2:37 PM

Umm no.

I do not want “I will help Gate’s in the dismantle of Missile Defense” Petraeus for a President.

Thanks but no thanks.

upinak on April 5, 2010 at 4:47 PM

Lets not repeat the mistake of getting to know a candidate until after they are elected. Obama fooled to many people, 53% or so and we still don’t know all the pitfalls ahead of us.

fourdeucer on April 5, 2010 at 4:56 PM

Let’s not draft Petraeus. He has a job to do that he is very good at. He has tremendous challenges in Afghanistan. He needs to concentrate on that. He is young and have plenty of time to be President later. So let hi8m do his job and let politics come later.

Hawthorne on April 5, 2010 at 4:59 PM

Lifer asskissers who work for Lefty presidents and bang allies like the Israelis over the head are not a good choice.
I smell the New Army diversity bs here a mile away.

No thanks.

TexasJew on April 5, 2010 at 5:00 PM

Dafydd, this cart’s not even in the same zip code as its horse. Let him retire and speak out on politics before you draft him.

OhioCoastie on April 5, 2010 at 5:09 PM

And yet — we don’t know the first thing about Petraeus’ political opinions!

Exactly. The ultimate Trojan Horse. We have no clue what his beliefs are on anything. Little public record, no record of voting, nothing. And the military is not the private sector or diplomacy–it’s top-down, command and control organization. I’m not sure POTUS is the next stop for a general, regardless of who they are.

conservative pilgrim on April 5, 2010 at 5:17 PM

Petraeus is registered to vote as a Republican in New Hampshire—he once described himself to a friend as a northeastern Republican, in the tradition of Nelson Rockefeller

source

I would bet cash money that he’s not a TEA Partier. Sorry.

Siobhan on April 5, 2010 at 6:12 PM

Why do people insist on assigning to their Heros all sorts of attributes and positions?

Clark1 on April 5, 2010 at 6:31 PM

I don’t believe he would do it, given a recent statement of “what part of no don’t you understand.”

How about a “Draft Paul Ryan” post? That sounds like just the right kind of post for Hot Air? Takers?

BruthaMan on April 5, 2010 at 6:53 PM

How about a “Draft Paul Ryan” post? That sounds like just the right kind of post for Hot Air? Takers?

BruthaMan on April 5, 2010 at 6:53 PM

See, now Ryan’s a guy that we do not have to guess what his positions are!

Clark1 on April 5, 2010 at 6:57 PM

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.

And yet you have no particularly good reason for thinking that.

ernesto on April 5, 2010 at 7:01 PM

he has never yet said that he would not serve, even if his country desperately needed him.

Right now he is desperately needed in both Iraq and Afghanistan as both of those countries seem to be slip-sliding away with Maliki sidling up to Al-Sadr, Karzai sidling up to the Taliban and both Maliki and Karzia sidling up to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

MB4 on April 5, 2010 at 7:10 PM

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.”

If forced to choose between the penitentiary and the White House for four years, I would say the penitentiary, thank you.
- William Tecumseh Sherman

MB4 on April 5, 2010 at 7:16 PM

In our Country one class of men makes war and leaves another to fight it out.
- William Tecumseh Sherman

MB4 on April 5, 2010 at 7:17 PM

Petraeus is registered to vote as a Republican in New Hampshire—he once described himself to a friend as a northeastern Republican, in the tradition of Nelson Rockefeller

Siobhan on April 5, 2010 at 6:12 PM

For those to young to remember Nelson Rockefeller, he was rather like the Arlen Specter of back then.

MB4 on April 5, 2010 at 7:21 PM

NO!

redridinghood on April 5, 2010 at 7:42 PM

Good Lord…..

Most people have ZERO idea about The fine General’s political proclivities. And yes, General Petraeus is a fine man and excellent commander.

I still remember the last General Republicans went crazy over and wanted to draft into the running. His name? Colin Powell. And when the chips were down, where did Powell place his loyalty? Well, it certainly wasn’t with those who loved and admired him, that’s for damned sure.

Instead he backed the candidate of a party that had openly mocked him and other Black Republicans with the vilest of racist attacks.

As others are pointing out, the General describes himself as a “Rockefeller” and an “Eisenhower” type of Republican.

Folks, that’s the Lindsay Graham, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, and as the esteemed MB4 puts it: Arlen Specter wing of the Republican party.

That’s unacceptable, and well, unelectable.

If you want that, hell go line up behind Mitt Romney or see if you can’t talk Colin Powell into coming back!

These are serious times for serious people with serious abilities and experience, as well as a genuine desire to serve.

This is folly, pure folly. LET IT GO!

gary4205 on April 5, 2010 at 7:48 PM

Petraeus is darned serious… But a serious soldier.

No need to draft a nominally Republican national hero until and unless the GOP loses three presidential elections in a row. We’re not there yet.

tigerinexile on April 6, 2010 at 11:07 AM