Chris Hayes pitted Tom Ricks against Spencer Ackerman on the Petraeus scandal on the Sunday show. Tom Ricks still believes David Petraeus was a good commander, and Spencer Ackerman continues to challenge Ricks. Yet, even Hayes in his own editorial and Dan Rather on Chris Matthews’ show can’t get beyond adoring David Petraeus – even when they reprove him for using Gmail or having an affair. And, Petraeus’ name is really useful politically and for high-powered defense attorneys.
David Petraeus has hired a big-name attorney as investigations of his career-ending affair continue, it was reported Sunday as his mistress and her family returned home for the first time since the scandal broke.
The former CIA director and retired four-star general signed on with top Washington lawyer Robert Barnett for help in guiding him as he retreats in disgrace from government, Politico reported. Barnett is known for inking big-bucks book deals for President Obama and Sarah Palin, but there is no plan for Petraeus to write about his sex romps with his fawning biographer, Paula Broadwell.
While the Broadwells tried to settle back into their domestic life, Republicans remained on the warpath over the watered-down talking points that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice used to speak about the terrorist attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya days after the Sept. 11 attack.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), the ranking GOPer on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Rice should testify about why the approved documents were scrubbed of any mention that — as Petraeus testified Friday — the U.S. knew right away the attack was terrorism.
“At some point, she needs to come in and and say what the President or the White House directed her to say,” Chambliss said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Why do we extoll a commander for being relatively more competent than over ten of his peers who rotated in and out of Afghanistan and Iraq? Mind you, Petraeus is the same manager who made media relations such a key aspect of his command style, according to Ricks. Shouldn’t we be skeptical of Petraeus’ image of competence? And, by what standard are we judging Petraeus’ competence? Dan Rather puts it in gender terms – men take risks, and Petraeus was exceptionally prone to the masculine curse. Again, this is praise disguised as mild reproach. Would the U.S. be better served by women generals? No.
The standard by which we judge military commanders, indeed the entire defense establishment, is the policies civilian leaders and ultimately citizens devise and sanction. The Iraq War was a bad idea, and Afghanistan was a righteous crusade that has become a boondoggle. David Petraeus shot back an image of moral approval and tactical brutality that disguised Americans’ misgivings about these two bad decisions. We created this monster through our stupidity. David Petraeus is only as awesome a leader as we delude ourselves in our own moral judgment.