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Tuesday, January 22, 2008
i am the warrior:
There's been a ton of idle speculation lately about what Petraeus does next. My guess: the GOP loses in November and he starts running for president. Sure, sure, we've got 2008 to contend with. But it's never too early to start irresponsibly speculating about a Petraeus Surge to the Presidency. And with that awkward, intro, here's my latest TAP Online column:
The rationale for a Petraeus candidacy depends on the GOP coalition fracturing under the weight of the war -- something that hasn't happened yet. In the event of a Republican loss in November, the party will have to come to terms with the legacy of the war. The most politically advantageous way of doing that will be to draft a symbol of the Iraq war as it might have been: engineered and executed not by the hidebound ideologues and incompetents of the Bush administration, but by a nimble, dexterous warrior-scholar. It's true that John McCain has made the surgenik critique of the war for a long time. But it's a whole new political world when articulated by the man responsible -- in the media's imagination, at least -- with the war's belated redemption.
The piece also tries to game out how a Democratic president could either upset a Petraeus bid's groundwork or blunder into its inevitability. Due credit goes to Yglesias, since I got the idea to write this after a conversation we had about Petraeus's ambitions. He bears no responsibility if the piece sucks.
And no whinging about how early this is! Let's have some fun.
I don't know if I buy this. If I were a Republican political hack, I'd advise handing this little bundle of joy off to the Democrats and then blaming them once it grows up to be a mass murderer. Per the Bacevich piece in the WaPo over the weekend, this was the main idea behind the surge in the first place: the neocons salvage their reputation, and the Democrats get the ultimate day of reckoning hung around their neck as further evidence that they cannot be trusted with the national security portfolio. The narrative's already set: "Bush had things back on track (we were winning!!!) and then the Dummocrats came in and bollocksed everything up!" The Republican coalition won't fracture--it'll unify to blame the Dems.