The Democrats Were Against Petraeus Before They Were For Him

They love him in Afghanistan but opposed him in Iraq.

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Gen. David Petraeus is now the darling of the Democrats. Having been picked by President Barack Obama to lead U.S. efforts on the ground in Afghanistan, Petraeus, the architect of the surge in Iraq, is being praised by the Democrats from pillar to post.

It wasn’t always so.

[Check out our editorial cartoons on Afghanistan.]

As President Bush’s point man on the Iraq War at a time when the left was demanding the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops there, Petraeus was the object of numerous “slings and arrows” fired by Bush’s political opponents including the now infamous ad placed in the New York Times by which referred to him as “Gen. Betray Us.”

The Democrats' newfound love for the general is proof of the old adage that “Nothing succeeds like success.” Petraeus’ plan for Iraq worked, as most everyone now acknowledges, and it led to his appointment as head of CentCom, the Pentagon's regional command that gave him overall responsibility for both Iraq and Afghanistan.

But while all the president’s men are busy wrapping their arms around Petraeus, the Republicans are going into overdrive to remind everyone that the Democrats didn’t always feel the love where their newest hero was concerned.

On Thursday the Republican National Committee issued a document putting the issue in sharp relief. Aimed at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the RNC asked if the Nevada senator was ready to “apologize” to Petraeus for having previously questioned his credibility.

[See which industries donated the most to Reid.]

A collection of Reid’s own statements, including one where he asserted that Petraeus had “made a number of statements over the years that have not proven to be factual,” the RNC document also alludes to disparaging remarks made by Reid to a group of liberal bloggers back in June 2007. In that same interview, Politico’s John Bresnahan reported, Reid referred to the then-outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, as “incompetent.”

It is yet to be determined if the GOP's strategy will be successful, but given the public’s current distrust of career politicians, it seems sensible to point out, in a political context, that far too many Democrats were against Petraeus before they were for him.

  • Check out our editorial cartoons on Afghanistan.
  • Follow the money in Congress.
  • See photos of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.