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Friday, December 6, 2019

Petraeus for President?

by Paul Findley

© AP Images, Army General David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan
© AP Images, US Army General David H Petraeus
© AP Images, Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney addresses a group of workers at the Nationwide Insurance Company

The former US Congressman and author Paul Findley shares his thoughts on the Republican nomination for the presidency.

“The late Senator William Fullbright once observed, “The British have a much better way to choose chief executives than we have”.

President Harry Truman, then the most recent product of the US system, was so upset by the comment, he denounced Fullbright as an “over-educated Oxford SOB”. If Truman surveyed today’s Republican sideshow for the presidency he might agree with Fullbright.

The contest for the Republican nomination is within weeks of its grand opening. Primary voting begins soon after New Years Day. To me, it is confounding that no strong leader has emerged. Former Governor Mitt Romney seems alone at the top, but his ‘top’ is not far up. Where are the heavy weights?

In 1952, I sat in an obscure section reserved for country newspaper editors when Republicans gathered at the Stockyards Arena in Chicago and chose Dwight D. Eisenhower as standard-bearer.

He was selected from a field of heavyweights. The ‘also-rans’ included Senator Robert Taft of Ohio, Governor Earl Warren of California and Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York. Another heavyweight, General Douglas MacArthur, waited in the wings.

If I were a Republican National Committee leader these days, I would scratch my head in despair. As I peck out these words, the Republican TV shows display more falls than rises.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich seems tied with former Governor Mitt Romney, but the speaker is likely to tumble when his lobby dealings and other mischief come into focus. Party leaders surely are hunting for an Ike-like heavyweight to save the day. Four-star General David Petraeus comes to my mind.

He is not, of course, an Eisenhower. Ike was one of a kind, a beloved leader of forces that brought down Nazi Germany in World War II.

Petraeus’s wars — Afghanistan and Iraq — have been ill-considered from the start, through no fault of his own, so far as I know. But, like Ike, Petraeus is a heavyweight. He has learned the folly of war and is familiar with the farewell address Ike delivered to the nation, just before leaving the presidency.

His assets are impressive. He is young and charming. He has had a fine formal and practical education; success at managing big operations; popularity far beyond any other military man on today’s scene; handson knowledge of how Washington and much of the world works; and an earned doctorate in international relations.

He is on first name acquaintance with many of the world’s movers and shakers.

He has top qualifications to reverse the mad scramble for world policing that, sadly, President George W. Bush started and President Barack Obama is advancing. He is an old hand at federal budgeting.

The general could hit the campaign trail running. He exudes confidence. He says he is not interested in being president, but his not-so-private emails a couple of years ago prove otherwise.

He is now director of the Central Intelligence Agency, sentenced there beyond ready reach of the media by our politically-canny leader.

Obama probably marked him long ago as a formidable Republican presidential opponent. A write-in campaign would, I believe, sweep the early primaries. Republican skies would brighten.

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