Who do You Trust?

Democrats and their allies in the political activist media are working hard to pre-empt the September report on Iraq by General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker.  They live in fear of the facts that, if delivered without political spin, could be fatal to their party’s lose-the-war-at-all-costs White House strategy.

They are also fearful that General Petraeus himself may become a powerful public symbol untarnished by partisan politics.  So they are doing the only thing they know how: slinging mud at Petraeus himself. 

Petraeus was confirmed by the Senate in January.  Three months later, on April 19th, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said that the war in Iraq was lost. Five days after that Reid had the following exchange with a CNN reporter:

CNN reporter: [The President] said Gen. Petraeus is going to come to the Hill and make it clear to you that there is progress going on in Iraq, that the so-called surge is working…will you believe him when he says that?

Reid: (laughs) No…I don’t believe him because it’s not happening. All you have to do is look at the facts…

In June, when Petraeus said that there were new “astonishing signs of normalcy” in Baghdad — citing open markets, soccer leagues playing in open-field stadiums and such, Reid said Petraeus, “…isn’t in touch with what’s going on in Baghdad,”  and implied that Petraeus hadn’t been honest in prior testimony to Congress. 

On August 15, former Clinton functionary and head of the Democratic Congressional Caucus Cong. Rahm Emanuel chummed for the media sharks.  He said,

"After years of slogans and soundbites Americans deserve an even-handed assessment of conditions in Iraq. Sadly, we will only receive a snapshot from the same people who told us the mission was accomplished and the insurgency was in its last throes. We’ve spent hundreds of billions of dollars and lost thousands of lives in Iraq. An honest report from our generals and diplomats about the status of the war isn’t too much to ask."

The Dems media assault on Petraeus may be beginning to work.  CNN reported a new survey supposedly proving that 53% of Americans didn’t trust Petraeus to report the truth on Iraq.

Last week’s media feeding frenzy fed on the idea that Petraeus’ report wasn’t being written by him and that it would be a spin-doctored White House creation.  Reports also hinted darkly that the White House was trying to limit Petraeus’ Congressional testimony to behind-closed-door sessions so his impliedly questionable credibility could be concealed. 

That Public Law 110-28, passed by Congress and signed by the President, requires the President — not Petraeus — to submit the report and also requires Petraeus to testify in open and closed sessions to Congress on the September report — were facts apparently too complicated for the press to grasp.  Or they weren’t worth reporting, because they interfered with the feeding frenzy attack on Petraeus. 

That feeding frenzy resulted in Sunday’s eructation in the Sunday Times of London titled, “Americans Doubt General ‘Betraeus’ over Troop Surge.”  It cited a "recently retired general" who apparently (or with the help of the “reporter”) coined the treasonous nickname “Betraeus” who said the general was too political to be believed. It also quoted former Defense Department official Larry Korb, who called Petraeus, “…’the most political general since General [Douglas] Mac-Arthur,’ a reference to the second world war hero who was touted as a possible president.” 

The antiwar media are terrified of the facts Petraeus will deliver.  In the liberal fever swamps Petraeus is to be imagined standing in a dark cave with Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and Richard Perle stirring a flaming cauldron full of some foul neocon potion.   What rot.

I have met Gen. Petraeus twice, looked him straight in the eye and gotten hard answers to tough questions.  I have met enough political generals to know one by their eye movements and elusiveness.  Petraeus is a straight shooter.  He will deliver the facts as he knows them, without spin and without regard to future political consequences.  I’m not alone in that assessment.

Brookings Institution scholar Dr. Michael O’Hanlon is one of the authors of the New York Times article that threw the Dems into disarray two weeks ago. No one will confuse O’Hanlon with Richard Perle. He told me, “I do know Petraeus fairly well, and I think that on balance, Americans will be very impressed with his report and, on balance, they will conclude that what he says will have a lot of credibility.  My guess is that he will be careful enough about what he says that he is not going to be seen as a spinmeister or a Polyanna or someone who just wants to say all is well in Iraq.”

O’Hanlon went on to predict that, “I think he will have a very impressive performance in September.  And I think that polls at the time of his testimony will suggest that people are fairly impressed by what he and his troops are doing even as they remain hugely concerned about whether we’re headed for a good outcome in Iraq and whether the political situation there can improve enough to warrant all the military sacrifice even if the military dynamics are becoming more positive.”  Is that enough?  Well, how about asking some of the people who know him best about his character?

How about retired Marine Lt. General Michael “Rifle” DeLong?  DeLong told me, “I’ve known General Petraeus for many years.  He served with me under Gen. Franks in 2003.  He understands warfighting, people, and always tells it like it is.  David is a man of impeccable integrity."  DeLong added, "In Northern Iraq, in 2003, he and his troops were a major factor in keeping the Kurds out of the war. The Iraqi people there loved him.  They referred to him as King David.  We could not have a better commander on the ground in Iraq…"  Is that enough?  How about asking another straight shooter who knows Petraeus, retired Air Force Lt. General Thomas McInerny?

McInerny said, “General Petraeus is an extraordinary military leader and a very honorable man of the highest order.  The American public should respect his military judgement with their lives which we are doing today. Radical Islam has no limits and the left wing and main stream media politicizing national security for political gain has only emboldened America’s enemies.”

Is that enough for you?  It’s more than enough for me. 

Let’s end it this way: if your nation’s life depended on it, who would you trust:  David Petraeus or Harry Reid?


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