Why is General Petraeus Going to Iowa Next Year?
by Jonathan Singer, Sun Mar 15, 2009 at 12:33:21 PM EDT
From the UK's Spectator:
"THE WEEKLY STANDARD has learned that General Petraeus is planning on delivering the commencement address at the University of Iowa in 2010."
So reports Michael Goldfarb, late of the McCain campaign, on the magazine's blog.
Petraeus going to Iowa, a state he doesn't have previous ties to, is going to create a huge amount of buzz about his presidential ambitions because the Iowa Caucuses kick off the whole presidential nomination process. If he does, deliver the address--and Petraeus must know this--it will be seen as a sign that he is thinking about running in 2012.
Previously, it has been thought that Petraeus would not run against a president who had been his Commander in Chief. But there are reports of tension between Petraeus and Obama over both Iraq and Afghan strategy.
It very well could be that this isn't what it looks like. After all, General Petraeus will also be speaking at Harvard, Princeton and MIT.
Nevertheless, David Petraeus is smart and savvy. He knows what a prominent speech in Iowa a little more than a year before the caucuses means. This news is already stoking quite a bit of attention and speculation from the conservative blogosphere (see here and here and here and here, for instance). It's hard for me to imagine that he doesn't understand how this move will be interpreted.
And, at least from my vantage, there's something a bit unseemly about all of this. Certainly military men have flirted with or made runs at public office in modern American politics. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Al Haig. Wes Clark. But there's a difference between former Generals running on campaigns focused in no small part on their resumes of service and those still in uniform doing so.
Again, this story may be garnering more attention and thought than it deserves. This could just be a speech. But if Petraeus does in fact harbor ambitions for 2012, he should really think about whether it's proper for him to forward them while still serving.
Update [2009-3-16 11:28:31 by Jonathan Singer]: Apparently the story is false, stemming from a report from Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb that Goldfarb is now trying to walk back as a joke (though it was decidedly NOT written as one). Righteous indignation withdrawn.