Well, it didn’t take long, did it? General Petraeus, who wrote the book on counter-insurgency fighting, whose Princeton PhD. dissertation analyzed the bloody consequences of the withdrawal from Vietnam, who was unanimously confirmed by Congress when appointed as Iraqi commander, is now officially a liar and a right-wing stooge.
Why? It appears to be a combination of two factors: the surge is having some positive results and Petraeus is reporting that fact, and he gave an in-depth interview to the likes of Hugh Hewitt (labeled a lunatic by Matthew Iglesias at the Atlantic Online, who also says—without really explaining why—that no one should go on Hewitt’s show).
If you actually read the interview transcript, it appears that Hewitt has somehow managed to keep from foaming at the mouth as he queries Pertraeus, whose answers to Hewitt’s questions seem judicious and measured. The General offers some good news, it’s true, but also some bad news about the surge—the latter including the spotty reliability of Iraqi forces, for example.
No one who reads the article with an open mind could find much actual evidence on which to question either Petraeus’s competence or his efforts at candor and balance. Ah, but that doesn’t stop those partisans on the Left who have a powerful interest in the surge not working, and in discrediting anyone—even a man with the impeccable credentials of Petraeus—who might have the gall to say otherwise.
And so they are killing the messenger by concentrating on criticism of the receiver of the message: Hewitt, who is indeed a partisan. As, of course, are they.
….such a decision to cater to one party’s propaganda outlet [the Hewitt interview] renders Petraeus’ military independence moot,” Sullivan declared. “I’ll wait for the transcript,” he continued, before not waiting for the transcript. “But Petraeus is either willing to be used by the Republican propaganda machine or he is part of the Republican propaganda machine. I’m beginning to suspect the latter. The only thing worse than a deeply politicized and partisan war is a deeply politicized and partisan commander. But we now know whose side Petraeus seems to be on: Cheney’s. Expect spin, not truth, in September.”(emphasis added.)
So, let’s summarize. Despite his previous reputation as a knowledgeable man and a straight shooter (and all of that “supporting the troops” stuff on the part of the Left/liberals), if a commander gives an interview to someone on the Right, his veracity is immediately and deeply suspect. Petraeus is only allowed to give interviews to the NY Times and the Boston Globe and the New Yorker and the Nation—outlets that may not even be asking to interview him, for all we know—or his entire reputation is trashed.
It’s guilt by association, and there’s no need to point out the parts of the interview that are suspect; it’s the thing itself. The only good—and nonpartisan—interview would apparently be one with Seymour Hersh.
It’s not as though Petraeus has only been interviewed by Hewitt or the Right, either. Here’s a bunch of his recent interviews with venues that seem fairly varied: CBS and CNN to balance out Fox, for example.
The grouping includes a quote from Harry Reid in late April saying that he won’t believe Petraeus if he says there’s progress in Iraq, because whatever the General may say to the contrary, it isn’t happening there. Now, there’s another truly open and nonpartisan mind, like Sullivan’s and Iglesias’s.
And they call Petraeus biased.