Is Petraeus going to run for President?

From the headlines over at Ace’s there’s an article in the Vancouver Sun that thinks he may be leaning that way.

U.S. Gen. David Petraeus is being strongly suggested as the Republican presidential candidate to stand against Barack Obama in 2012.

Speculation is growing that the shrewd and articulate commander credited with turning around the Iraq war is contemplating a run for the White House.

I am actually pretty lukewarm on this idea.

1. I have no idea where he stands on many issues.

2. Virtually any campaign he ran would therefore be  based on personal charisma, rather than longstanding record of public policy. That didn’t work out so well for us in the ’08 campaign, I’m not eager to try again.

3. He’s probably a heck of a lot more moderate than most Republicans realize. The Services are always touted as leaning conservative, and favoring Republicans. That’s true, but that isn’t the whole story. They tend to be very moderately conservative, and certainly it isn’t a monolithic bloc. In fact, if you look at recent elected officials who are vets, or have run for office, many of them are Dems. Think Sestak, for one. Wes Clark. Merrill McPeak. Heck, look how conservative Colin Powell turned out to be. The point being, just because he’s in the Army, doesn’t mean Petraeus is a true conservative. My guess is he’s probably socially pretty dang moderate.

4. Generals tend to make pretty lousy elected officials. Ike was the exception that proves the rule. We’ve elected quite a few to the Presidency over the years. I think one reason is that for all their executive experience, Generals are used to saying “do this” and having everyone jump to it. That’s hardly the case in the rest of the government. There’s also the issue of loyalty. In the Army, it is VERY rare for a subordinate to leak word of an internal squabble to the public. In DC, that’s a sport. Plus, career politicians, as much as we hate them, know the people needed to staff the various departments at the cabinet and subcabinet level.  In addition, any general elected would get significant pushback from Congress, even from his own party. There’s a heck of a lot of people in Congress that, after working their adult lives in politics, would be greatly annoyed to see someone waltz in and take the prime job.

5. He’s not done. If Petraeus is serious about running, or even positioning to run, he’s got to start right now. And that means he would be need to retire right now. It is unacceptable for any officer to campaign while on active duty whether their actions rise to the level of legal prohibition or not. Right now, any and all public acclaim that Petraeus has is due to his actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, as a commander of our troops. But he needs to continue in that role, both as a moral obligation to those troops he leads, and to  help ensure the successful completion of the mission. He can’t do that if he’s preparing to run for office, and he can’t quit to run for office without being seen to abandon his troops in the field.

Gen. Petraeus has consistently denied that he’s running for office. So this isn’t really a critique of him. This is directed more at those folks who seem enthusiastic about the idea of him running for office.  I think the idea of him running for office (any office) in 2012 is a non-starter.

Of course, 2016 is a long ways away, and he’ll probably be retired by then.

Your thoughts?

8 thoughts on “Is Petraeus going to run for President?”

  1. I’d rather see Gen. Mattis run for the office 😉 Having made a wishful/humorous comment, I agree with you 100%

  2. Brad, Sorry to hear you got McPeaked. I do hope they used a lubricant, but I doubt it. Most times, they used an abrasive. I talked with an old man, I knew, 100+ years old and his older brother. He would often talk about the ‘wild royal rectal hair’, after someone else commented on the subject. He would say to me, “I’m confused, is he bragging or complaining? Grumpy, you’re a Vet. How long has it been since you could feel a hair like that on you?” I always said, “It’s been so long, I can’t even remember.” We would both laugh, he worked on the technology for the “pacifiers” for Japan at the Manhattan Project.

    Petraeus as President is actually a non-starter. The Uniform of the US Military and politics, absolutely do not mix. Can you imagine Petraeus, not as a 4 star, but as POTUS, asking all of the questions needing answers, from his historical perspective.

  3. I’m not sure I want him as POTUS either. As you said, there’s not a lot known on his positions regarding the several issues at hand. He would make, I believe, an excellent National Security Advisor.

  4. Eisenhower was elected without anyone knowing much about him politically. He worked out OK, but he was a moderate that pretty much seated the new deal permanently into the political psyche. I doubt Peteraeus would be much different.

    One thing no one should ever forget, a General Officer is a politician. He may wear Green or Blue, but he is still a politician to the core of his being or he wouldn’t be a General Officer. We haven’t had any non-political Generals since the last of the WW2 cohort passed into retirement, and many of those were anything but apolitical. Study the controversy that surrounded the firing of MacArthur, and you will see what I mean.

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