In the Arena

The Petraeus Moment

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Various foolish literalists have taken this clip from Hardball yesterday as an indication that I “knew something” about a phone call that General Petraeus received from the White House. Obviously, it was just speculation on my part–although the General did charge back from the recess intent on getting a correction into the record as soon as possible.

I wish the clip had continued another moment or two. Matthews proposed that Petraeus was a puppet of the White House and I said I didn’t agree with that: the testimony was a precise reflection of what Petraeus believes, down to his insistence that the change in Anbar was primarily a political, not a military, development. As for his change of heart on the “Is America Safer?” question, it could have been a call from the White House or the Pentagon or his wife, saying: “Do you really want your 163,000 troopers to think that they’re not making America safer?”

You can disagree with Petraeus, as I sometimes do, but there’s no disputing his skill or honor.