Thursday, May 1, 2008

Alas, poor Petraeus, I knew him well...

I have to say that I love Dick Cavett and wish that I had been older during his heyday when he had his talk show. Such a brilliant humorist, and now a brilliant writer. On April 11 the NY Times published his piece entitled “Memo to Petraeus and Crocker: More Laughs, Please” where he skewered the Bush administration’s despicable prosecution of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by ridiculing the language used by Bush’s principal mouthpieces on the war, General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. My favorite arrow from the piece were the last seven sentences:

…poor Crocker. His brows are knitted. And he has a perpetually alarmed expression, as if, perhaps, he feels something crawling up his leg.

Could it be he is being overtaken by the thought that an honorable career has been besmirched by his obediently doing the dirty work of the tinpot Genghis Khan of Crawford, Texas? The one whose foolish military misadventure seems to increasingly resemble that of Gen. George Armstrong Custer at Little Bighorn?

Not an apt comparison, I admit.

Custer sent only 258 soldiers to their deaths.

"The tinpot Genghis Khan of Crawford, Texas" -- LOVE IT!
I would also add: at least Custer died with his men.
The piece generated hundreds of responses posted on the NY Times website. Most of them were supportive of Cavett, but not a few were highly critical of his treatment of Petraeus. One writer, who identified himself as "Tim," wrote: "It is easy for a civilian to sit safely at home and criticize a soldier, the life and death decisions do not weigh on you at night, nor are you entrusted by the people of your country to execute a mission, as ordered by your President. Instead of insulting a soldier who is serving honorably, I think it best to direct your insults at an inept Congress and our incompetent and despicable commander in chief."

I agree with Tim. Petraeus and anyone serving in the military are to be commended for their service, particularly at the folly of a commander-in-chief like President George W. (for "War-criminal") Bush. Having myself entertained soldiers at American military bases all over the world, from Iceland to Kuwait to Diego Garcia, I have witnessed first-hand their bravery, their selflessness, and their belief in the American ideal. All of them, even the ones I thought were assholes (mostly the officers), are patriots.
But if anyone thinks that Petraeus is not also a political cog in Bush's machine, he is deluding himself. Bush's presidency will go down in history as the most obstructionist, secretive, "Dick"tatorship the nation has ever seen. Petraeus would, at Bush's behest, do everything he could to keep all of Bush's balls in the air for as long as possible, including the wearing of every single medal he ever earned since he was in boot camp (called "Fruit Salad" by the irreverent) and using more syllables than needed to say what was plainly clear to anyone witnessing his congressional testimony. Further complicating matters is the fact that he likely bears in mind that he might have a political future of his own. Best not to upset the Republican apple cart if his goal is someday to lead that party to the White House.

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