General Petraeus 4 Prez or VP: Are you sure you mean that?

Among the most common additions to 2012 “dream team” presidential tickets, even at this venerable redoubt of the hard right, is the name “Petraeus.” He’d make Palin/Pawlenty/Romney/Huckabee/Thune-whomever instantly credible, seems to be the thinking.

Look, anything for the team and, up against Obama, for a win. Petraeus is said to be registered R, but of the nearly extinct Northeastern genus Rockefellerus (i.e., David Frum, only more so), but ticket-balancing has a long tradition behind it. Ronald Wilson Reagan himself gave us VP and President George Herbert Walker Voodoo Economics Read My Lips (Fooled Ya!) Bush, and had thought it was a bright idea in ’76 to bring liberal Senator Richard Schweiker onto his proposed presidential ticket.

But some observations, based on watching the General on Meet the Press this morning:

  • He thinks Iran is “a ways” away from a nuclear weapon, and favors our continuing the “pressure track” that we’re now on. Not the slightest hint of impatience with the current administration’s engagement policy – instead, words that in effect approve of it, as laying the pretext to unspecified future action.
  • He clearly opposes detainee interrogation methods that go beyond the Army Field Manual, believing they eventually end up “biting us on the backside,” and also aren’t necessary. And he explicitly favors closing Guantanamo, though isn’t “seized” with the notion that it must be closed by any certain date.
  • He likes to deflect difficult or potentially controversial questions – such as the ones above, also on “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and on Mullah Baradar’s capture and interrogation – by referring to orderly, methodical processes, or by methodically explaining why it would be out of order for him to answer.
  • He doesn’t say “Pock-ee-stan,” but he does say “Pah-ki-stan” – not “Pack-i-stan” like all red-blooded American conservatives…

It’s not completely inconceivable that such a man – such an intelligent, orderly, methodical, possibly a great man – could win a presidential election, if he cared to run or was drafted, but the character of the race and the circumstances surrounding it would have to be different than any we’ve seen in a very long time. Think total breakdown of law and order or so.

Leaving aside the fact that his views, if any, on fiscal policy, the size of government, taxes, and other key issues including social issues remain unknown, purely considering his main area of expertise, if he weren’t a successful, competent, and famous general, I don’t think the Republican Party of our times, or certainly the conservative wing, would want him anywhere near a presidential ticket, at the top or the bottom. When you pair him with a solid conservative candidate, even speculatively, even just for fun, you’re mainly highlighting the perceived deficiencies of that candidate – a lack of confidence in his or her appeal or credibility.

I will say this for the General: If he placed himself foursquare behind a major political objective – say, restoring the fundamentals of the American economy beginning with a real reduction in the size of government and a rationalization and re-conception of taxation and regulatory schemes, an objective that has largely eluded national conservatives despite generations of argument and campaigning – I’d trust him more than almost any other major American public figure to approach it methodically and in an orderly manner, and maybe even achieve it when no one else could.

But I also believe him when he says he’s not interested in running for office.

cross-adapted from Zombie Contentions