Petraeus for President?

While President  Obama sinks in the polls, he still appears to be more popular than Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin or any other prospective Republican presidential candidates.  But there is one potential Republican candidate with greater prestige than any candidate now in the field – General David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

General David Petraeus

General Petraeus has disclaimed any President ambition, as did General Dwight Eisenhower right up until the time he did run.  I have no reason to believe he is insincere, any more than Eisenhower was; I have no way of knowing that.  I do think it is possible he may change his mind.

His prestige rests on his achievement of enabling U.S. forces to exit Iraq without the U.S. government losing face.  Maybe he will duplicate this achievement in Afghanistan.  He is an astute and capable commander, but he is not a miracle worker.  If avoidance of defeat in Afghanistan is not humanly possible, a Petraeus candidacy in 2012 would be more viable than in 2016.

From the standpoint of the Republican leadership, he would be the candidate most certain to defeat Sarah Palin in the primaries and most likely to defeat Barack Obama in the general election.

What kind of a President would Petraeus make?  The best case would be that he would be another General Eisenhower, who was able to tame the military and the lunatic right-wing fringe in the Republican party.  The worst case would be that he would have the attitude of a General MacArthur concerning civilian control of the military.  I think he is too politically sophisticated to be another General Grant, to be manipulated by Washington insiders.

We live in interesting times.

Click on Will Petraeus Be Like Ike? for a speculative article in The American Spectator.  This article was published in May, 2010, following a visit by Petraeus to New Hampshire in March.

Click on Newsmax Poll: Gen Petraeus Would Defeat President Obama in 2012 Race for results of a poll indicating General Petraeus is the most popular of the potential Republican candidates.

Click on David Petraeus Wiki for his Wikipedia biography.

Click on Sarah Palin’s Nomination Chances for a reassessment by Nate Silver.

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