The Politics of Petraeus
Even as Gen. David Petraeus testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee, political operatives off the Hill are already working to frame his appearance.
This morning, the re-election campaign of Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R) sent an e-mail to supporters asking them to "Sign the Petraeus Petition," telling the general "you support the job he and his troops are doing in Iraq." The e-mail reminds readers that when Petraeus last testified to Congress, the "liberal left wing attack group MoveOn.org even took out a full page ad in the New York Times calling him a traitor."
The message hits "Democrats and their third-party attack machine" and even accuses presidential contenders Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama of returning to the Hill just to score "cheap political points."
Before this two-day series of hearings is over, you will hear plenty more Republicans mention that MoveOn.org ad in an attempt to put Democrats on the defensive. For their part, Democrats have been emphasizing that they respect Petraeus and the job he is doing, but they strongly disagree with President Bush on the way forward in Iraq. And Democrats suspect that the GOP would much rather have a "debate" about Petraeus' patriotism than about whether there really is progress in Iraq.
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