Digby had a really interesting post up about Obama's meeting with General Petraeus in Baghdad some time ago.
[Q] I have been collecting accounts of your meeting with David Petraeus in Baghdad. And you had [inaudible] after he had made a really strong pitch [inaudible] for maximum flexibility. A lot of politicians at that moment would have said [inaudible] but from what I hear, you pushed back.
[BO] I did. I remember the conversation, pretty precisely. He made the case for maximum flexibility and I said you know what if I were in your shoes I would be making the exact same argument because your job right now is to succeed in Iraq on as favorable terms as we can get. My job as a potential commander in chief is to view your counsel and your interests through the prism of our overall national security which includes what is happening in Afghanistan, which includes the costs to our image in the middle east, to the continued occupation, which includes the financial costs of our occupation, which includes what it is doing to our military. So I said look, I described in my mind at list an analogous situation where I am sure he has to deal with situations where the commanding officer in [inaudible] says I need more troops here now because I really think I can make progress doing x y and z. That commanding officer is doing his job in Ramadi, but Petraeus’s job is to step back and see how does it impact Iraq as a whole.
My argument was I have got to do the same thing here. And based on my strong assessment particularly having just come from Afghanistan were going to have to make a different decision. But the point is that hopefully I communicated to the press my complete respect and gratitude to him and Proder who was in the meeting for their outstanding work. Our differences don't necessarily derive from differences in sort of, or my differences with him don't derive from tactical objections to his approach. But rather from a strategic framework that is trying to take into account the challenges to our national security and the fact that we've got finite resources.
Read the full interview. I love the fact that Obama stood up to the mighty Petraeus and said if I'm the President, I make the calls in the end and not you. Bush used the good General to take the heat off himself for the disaster that is named Iraq and Afghanistan so that anyone disagreeing with Bush was actually attacking Petraues and by extension the military.
What a coward Bush is. It'll be a wonderful day when he is gone, but I think what this interview signals to me is that when the time is right, Petraeus will quit his job and turn into a full-on political machine. He's a darling of the right, and if you witnessed any of his briefings you know that he will love being in the limelight.
I think there is nearly zero chance that Petraeus is apolitical and I would bet good money that he is positioning himself for a role in shaping policy. His willingness to be used by the Bush administration proves it in my mind. in fac, his recent protestations of being above politics are actually very cunning --- if the country devolves back into angry partisanship, which it will (it always does), TMCP will be positioned to be the apolitical outsider with the leadership experience to lead us out of the darkness. There is no doubt in my mind that when he looks in the mirror he sees President Petraeus.
My suggestion to Obama: Watch your back.