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25 August 2008


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i still say that petraeus would be a 'reminder' to the voter of the failed bush admin. policies and needless american military deaths in iraq, not necessarily the cause of them.

previous u.s. presidents who were 'military presidents' were they not 'winners' or non-volatile periods? whereas petraeus is 'forever tied to the bush admin. failures' whether he likes it or not, whether petraeus deserves it or not.


I thought to argue that it is unclear why Petraeus would want to go for this electoral cycle, but upon reflection, this is probably his best opportunity. If McCain wins, then a VP is locked in for the next electoral cycle, and keeping his political capitol high for 8 years is quite a challenge? If Obama wins, the power of incumbency could delay for two cycles, with the added likelihood that if things go south (again) in Iraq or Afghanistan, Petraeus becomes a convenient fall guy for a President Obama.

Five minutes with google suggests he would be very acceptable to the critical evangelical base.

Curious is right, Obama should not have gone on vacation, nor had such ineffective surrogates while on said inappropriate vacation. When one is ahead in a marathon, one can slow down, but a siesta reminds me of the story of the tortoise and the hare.


Impossible to keep my mouth shut when I know I should. Here is what I believe the Col. sees that which many of you miss. Most of those who write into SST are of sympathetic views. When you are in a like-minded environment you can miss what seems obvious to someone outside the community's point of view. In many ways Pat Lang is a professional contrarian and can visualize an unattractive senario, even in the midst of a closed environment. It might be fatal, in your mind, for McSame to be on the same ticket as another military mind, but in the OC and other such communities it sounds just swell.

Clifford Kiracofe

An academic colleague of mine who follows domestic politics, said at lunch today, "It's for Obama to lose." He suggested Lugar for SecState and Nunn for DOD as a way to add weight and some bipartisan foreign policy emphasis to the ticket.

But in a delusional America is this enough?

"...O judgement! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason..."


The problem is we don't know Petraeus' political views.

Patrick Lang




Nobody knew Eisenhower's political views either. pl


If Petraeus is politically ambitious, he might be better off running in 2012 for the Presidency rather than running as VP with McCain in 2008.


The GOP needs St. Lord Jesus His High Holiness General Petraeus in a uniform, so they can hide behind it. In a suit? Dave Petraeus, just another schmuck. The fetishization of the uniform is effective, but it imposes some tactical costs.


If, as Colonel Lang states, a McCain/Petraeus ticket would be a winning combination, it would in my judgment be a crippling blow to our nation and its people.

We face unprecedented monetary, industrial and social deficits (in every sense of that word) and we have a military that is, by all accounts, broken and in disrepair. The physical infrastructure of the country has crumbled with no relief planned. This ticket would insure that we become the next “banana republic” in the Western Hemisphere. In eight short years Bush blew through a $2 Trillion surplus and created a deficit that will easily double that amount. McCain/Petraeus would continue deficit spending.

McCain/Petraeus is a recipe for disaster. Why? Because they would be ready to make military threats all over the globe. “We are all Georgians”, said McCain! How can we accomplish anything in the face of present and future deficits? Of course, the pair is great for DOD contractors and lobbyists, but what about the domestic bills that are due? Would McCain/Petraeus tell China and other creditors to “stuff it” should they cash in their chips?

There seems to be unanimous opinion (except the die-hards) that McCain is loose cannon, but there is sentiment that Petraeus is brilliant and top-notch. I don’t know the man, but my instinct tells me he’s a “brown-noser” and “fair-haired boy”.

Petraeus is said to be the author and executor of the Iraq “Surge”. He and his patron, Bush, calculated that the “terrorists/insurgents” were the main element to be controlled, and their “no timelines” edicts suggested they thought they were in control of events “on the ground”. How many times did we hear that? All pronouncements from Petraeus’ lips: “six more months” “we are not quite ready to draw-down”; “the Iraq military is not ready” reflected a belief that his main mission was to isolate or neutralize the “terrorists/insurgents” on our unspecified time-table. “Iraqi benchmarks?” Allow me to hand you these Power Point presentations filled with my metrics, said Petraeus.

Neither Bush nor Petraeus expected that Maliki would show them the door as he is now doing. Maliki’s action shows that Petraeus may not know what the hell he’s doing for he has lost control. His legacy may be that by extending the occupation he created the situation that will allow Iran to assert influence – and perhaps control - over the Iraqis.


Although I believe that McCain is the best thing that the Obama campaign has going for them and the right track/wrong track poll favors the Democrats overwhelmingly - I do not take Pat's analysis lightly. Pat has the incisive intel analyst mindset and in my gut I can relate to what he sees in the vast American electorate.

Team McCain has had a free ride through the summer to shape the voter gut. Team Obama blew it by throwing Wes Clark under the bus rather than picking up and amplifying on Clark's neutralization of the POW card. Will Biden and Team Obama counter-attack now before its too late and similarly try to re-shape the voter gut to make a difference in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Colorado. The states where I believe the 2008 presidential election will be decided. IMO, this election like the recent one's we've had will turn on voter's inherent prejudices and their gut perceptions of the character of the individual candidates and not their laundry list of policy prescriptions. I think the best advice for the Democrats for this fall's campaign is what Krugman in his op-ed Go Negative suggests - "tarnish Mr. McCain’s image enough so that voters see this as a race between a Democrat and a Republican. And that’s a race the Democrat will easily win."

We'll know soon enough as the conventions end. So far Team Obama has not chosen the winning plays.

Patrick Lang


As I remember it, Petraeus was going to go to Iraq to apply the COIN thingy that he is erroneously thought to have re-discovered like Joe Smith (oops) when a couple of things happened to him 1- the awakening and 2- the "surge" as a strategy. As I recall that was cooked up over at AEI by Kagan and the former vice chief of staff of the army, Keene. Petraeus being a young man who know when to say yes, incprporated that smartly into his bag of goodies. The rest is history. pl

Patrick Lang


I really think Petraeus would be better off now rather than in 2012. If McCain is elected without him, then the VP will want the job. If Obama is elected, then Petreus would have to remember that he was a Democrat all along.

At the risk of scandalizing a young marine captain who wrote on his blog that I should be more reverent, I think the "Obambi" thing is a scream. pl

Stephen Calhoun

Pat allow me to introduce a very rough analysis in the form of questions.

Would a McCain/Petraeus ticket instantly become the most 'celebrity' combo possible?

Isn't its appeal dependent on the same unconscious fusion of mass emotion with qualities projected on men that are now derided by McCain?

(It would be ironic if McCain opted to advantage himself the same way Obama, in part, has also done. I tend to agree that for reasons of social psychology it would be a very tough ticket to wound and vanquish.)



may i ask since when do you have to be 'reverent' to anybody? -- reverent to 'whom'?

John Shreffler

Think Progress has a piece up entitled "Petraeus disagrees with McCain, Says Success in Iraq May Have Been Possible Without the Surge." McCain seems to have 2 basic sentences, one with a noun, a verb, and POW, and another where "I was right about the Surge" replaces the POW 3rd component. Maybe it's Romney after all. Gen P. may be too much of thinker for Johnny Mac.


Fascinating notion, Colonel. I think it all depends on what one would mean by "victory".

So consider this polemic...

I would suggest that once again, "it's the economy, stupid", and McCain plus Petraeus together add up to no clue whatsoever about the most important problem currently facing the U.S., namely the bewildering range of serious threats to the U.S. economy.

For but one example, there is a direct connection between the military and the economy (as Andrew Bacevich has so eloquently pointed out). Our discretionary government spending is in very large part military in nature, and no serious attempt to cut the deficit (much less pay back the debt, which has been skyrocketing since Bush took office) can succeed without substantial cuts in military spending.

Don't believe me, look up the numbers yourself. Note that the current DoD annual budget is approximately equal to the current annual deficit, and then think about what that means (namely, that we are financing virtually all of our military operations via a big credit card whose bills will be mailed to our children -- and just how sustainable is that going to be?).

Or alternatively, it means that we could cut the military budget to zero (not recommended in today's world!), and still owe a crushing financial burden of annual interest on the national debt (and said interest is also approximately equal to the size of the annual DoD budget, namely something in the neighborhood of a half-trillion dollars per year).

As a nation, we're broke, and rapidly getting more broke, and there's just no let-up in sight.

We are entering what can only be called the "Blanche DuBois" period of modern American economic history, namely, henceforth "we are always going to be dependent on the kindness of strangers", with said strangers having names like Dubai, or China, or... hell, like Russia!

Now maybe in the "only Nixon could go to China" vein, "only McCain and Petraeus could cut military expenditures", but I just don't see anything in either of these two candidates that would indicate they possess those kinds of leadership qualities. Hope springs eternal, but...

So the second worst thing that can happen to the GOP in Nov 2008 is for Obama to win the presidency. And the absolute worst possible thing that can happen to the GOP in Nov 2008 is for McCain to win. Because another couple years of GOP rule, with the attendant economic disasters it produces, will end the Republican brand once and for all.

And to anyone who disagrees, consider this: going into the 2004 elections, what everybody was talking about in political circles was the certainty of a permanent Republican majority at the national level, in the White House, and in Congress.

Bush won re-election, and within two years, nobody was talking about that permanent majority any more. The problem with the modern GOP is that almost no one left in the party has any semblance of a clue how to govern in the real world, and in the long run, we tend to reward political parties by the results they produce, not by the sophistry of their TV ads.

In McCain's case, those results will likely be more wars and more debt and more misery, General Petraeus or no. And that's why a McCain/Petraeus "victory" might really mean winning the electoral battle while setting the stage for losing the political war.

Victory, yes... hollow, very likely.

Now Romney, that's another story altogether, but I've ranted enough, so...

thus ends this polemic!


I have to agree with 'Curious's first comment - that McCain's stamina needs to be tested, but not by the Obama campaign - but by the media - they should bombard him with questions - so far they are giving him a lot of free passes... The media are not pro Obama, as I see it


I really enjoy reading this website. Lots of good comments.
The name Andrew Jackson didn't come up on PL's list - too obvious?
Petraeus debating Biden could have some fireworks. It should get high ratings. And what does the media love more than profit?
On the serious side, I'd hate to see a neocon militarist ticket win in 2008. The future could be quite radioactive.


Sir. Very interesting post, as usual. A MC Cain/Petraeus ticket would surely win, and would be a interesting way to hold a military coup. Wich, from a military pov is exactly what the US needs right now in my opinion. However, the same goes for Obama: Why he hasnt been smooching up more to the good general, or for that sake why he has not tried to get Adm Fallon and all the "fallen" generals like Sanchez the Slimeball and others to play a part is curious.

"Collectively, you still can't differentiate between analysis and advocacy. That's a problem."

That seems to be a very common american failing, often mixed in with a lack of cynicism and sarcasm.

"Why would Petraeus want to do this? AMBITION! AMBITION! Why do you think he does anything?"

One could also argue that he might want to go into politics for unselfish reasons, such as making sure there is no war with Iran, that the Army finally gets some money, to kick AF arse and bury certain idiotic missileshield plans for good, to micromanage the Information Ops-structure, to get the Afghanistan situation somehow back on an even keel. But to do that, I guess he should choose the democrats.?

Clifford Kiracofe

Well what about the beer baroness? Off to Georgia it seems....

" CINDY McCain, wife of US Republican presidential candidate John McCain, is traveling to Georgia this week to assess the humanitarian situation there after its military conflict with Russia, the Arizona senator said overnight...."



Did you not see Obama's questioning Petraeus in before the Senate foreign relations committee last spring. It was artful, to say the least.


I think the Col. is right with respect to certain voting demographics -- a McCain/Petraeus ticket would be a landslide among certain groups. But just as in the Dem. primary, we are going to see a huge generational split come the first Tuesday in November. Can Obama get the young'uns (under 40) out to the polls? I don't know, but if you think he was 'vacationing' in Hawaii, you don't know how image conscious modern political campaigners are.

Clifford Kiracofe

Per a McCain presidential scenario, here is a reasonable assessment by Robert Parry. He has not included the beer baroness' trip to Georgia as an indicator.:

" In judging the shape of a future John McCain presidency, there are already plenty of dots that are easy to connect. They reveal an image of a war-like Empire so full of hubris that it could take the world into a cascade of crises, while extinguishing what is left of the noble American Republic."

Dana Jones

This has future implications as well. Colin Powell in '12 anyone? How about a Petraeus/Powell ticket?
Oh hell, why not just abolish Congress and put the military in charge, they seem to be running things anyway. That way we can give the Neo Klowns their fondest dream, eliminate all government spending except defense.


A truly horrible idea, pl.

al palumbo

All you need to know:


Case closed.


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