Obama on Petraeus: A tale of two videos

Barack Obama managed an unusually adept maneuver today by tempering criticism over the cashiering of General Stanley McChrystal with a replacement appointment of legendary General David Petraeus, perhaps the most well-known and trusted American commander since Eisenhower. Jules Crittenden wonders whether we have only two generals capable of handling the assignment with the de facto (and voluntary) demotion of Petraeus back to field command, but the point wasn’t really capability anyway, as Obama himself points out in his statement. It’s about re-establishing trust and confidence, and who better to do that than Petraeus, the hero of the Iraq surge? Obama emphasizes this in his introduction of Petraeus in the Rose Garden:

However, Obama wasn’t always so sanguine about Petraeus or surge strategies. Cubachi finds this revealing moment from 2007 in which Obama blasts the Bush administration’s surge decision and tells Petraeus that we were losing Iraq despite that effort. Pay special attention to the moment at 3:45 or so, where Obama derides Bush using now-familiar language:

This isn’t a criticism of either of you gentlemen, it’s a criticism of this President and the administration, which has set a mission for the military and our diplomatic forces that is extraordinarily difficult now to achieve. And there has been no acknowledgment of that on the part of this administration, so we have the President in Australia suggesting somehow that we are, as was stated before, kicking A-S-S. How can — how can we have a President making that assessment?

Really? In the end, Bush turned out to be right, and Obama wrong. And later, it seems that Obama has a lot less distaste for presidential ass-kicking rhetoric than he did when he spent ten minutes barking at the man who now has to save Obama’s bacon.

Update: Did MoveOn scrub “General Betray-Us” from their website?

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