Saturday, November 10, 2012

Why the Petraeus Departure is Good for the GOP


Official photo of General David Howell Petraeu...
David Petraeus (Wikipedia)
Naturally, there's a lot of speculation -- for example, is it possible that Obama's people blackmailed Petraeus into not contradicting the administration's line on Benghazi? Or that they let him go on his own terms as long as he waited until after the election (to avoid a possible "Obama canned Petraeus" backlash)?

I'm sure that in due time we'll all know more than we want to know about the general's love life, and get a face full of wild theories about what went on behind the scenes, but the one thing I have to say about it is that this is good for the Republican Party.

As long as Petraeus remained a top military/intelligence/political figure, with "bipartisan" chops to boot, he was an obvious candidate for the Republican Party's presidential or vice presidential nomination in 2016.

And a plausible candidate, too. He certainly has the experience. He would probably be a lock for VP and a serious contender for the top slot.

But his ability to compete at that level would have a lot to do with the GOP's tin ear on "defense" issues -- he would be a bad pick.

Even (maybe especially) if the US is substantially free of its current set of expensive military entanglements -- Afghanistan especially -- by 2016, voters are still going to be war-weary and suspicious of any candidate fitting a "likely ultra-hawk" profile.

The timing is good for the GOP too. Maybe not as good as having the whole thing create a scandal that helped Mitt Romney would have been, but at least it's soon enough after this election that if it cuts the other way it won't hurt the GOP in 2014 or 2016.
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