American Proscenium

Petraeus and the Senate Chickens

The central character in the little morality play spun out by the Bush administration in making the case for “staying the course” in Iraq is Gen. David Petraeus, commander of our forces in Iraq and the savior of the neocons’ war.  His much-vaunted report was to elucidate the conditions for “victory” once and for all, and silence the “defeatists” and other cowards who dared question our sainted Commander in Chief.  Of course, a draft-dodging lush who couldn’t even bring himself to show up for duty with the National Guard is hardly a model of military virtue, and his own strategic acumen is somewhat doubtful, at best.  After all, he and his political advisors have brought the Republican Party down to such a low ebb of support that it threatens to become a strictly regional phenomenon, limited to the reddest counties of the reddest states.  In short, our President is hardly a figure with the sort of military gravitas to inspire confidence, and so a substitute had to be found.  Certainly, General Petraeus fit the bill: Here, after all, is a seasoned veteran, his chest festooned with medals, his visage stern and calm—a veritable paragon of martial glamour.  Who are we to question him?  We must take his word for it when he says that victory is nigh.

The controversy surrounding his appearance, and especially the Senate vote condemning the

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