Jack Kelly: Petraeus on ticket interesting possibility
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In a Gallup poll May 23, more disapproved of Vice President Joe Biden (45 percent) than approved (42 percent.) In 12 swing states, Slow Joe was underwater 40-52, intensifying speculation President Barack Obama may dump him for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
While the president has an embarrassment for a running mate, Mitt Romney has an embarrassment of riches from which to choose. He can't go wrong if he picks from among governors Mitch Daniels (Indiana), Bobby Jindal (Louisiana), Chris Christie (New Jersey), Bob McDonnell (Virginia) and Scott Walker (Wisconsin); senators Rob Portman (Ohio) and Marco Rubio (Florida); and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.
But even if Mr. Biden continues to commit a gaffe a week, I doubt he'd hurt Mr. Obama much, because people vote on the basis of what they think of the presidential candidates. So its unlikely any of the aforementioned Republicans would gain for Mr. Romney many votes he wouldn't otherwise have had.
There's one guy who could matter more, thinks former National Security Council staffer Paul Miller. When Gallup last polled on him in April 2011, Americans rated Gen. David Petraeus favorably, 61- 7 percent. That poll may have been what prompted Mr. Obama to make Gen. Petraeus CIA director.
Gen. Petraeus "has stated clearly numerous times before, he will not seek elected office," a CIA spokeswoman said after ABC News included him last month on a list of potential vice presidential candidates.
But "will not seek" is not the same as "will not accept." Why might Gen. Petraeus leave the Obama administration to run against it?
For the same reason he stepped down from a bigger job to take over in Afghanistan when the president asked him to, and then accepted the CIA post when he ought to have been made chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Gen. Petraeus is a patriot.
So he can't be happy his hard-won victory in Iraq may be lost by the Obama administration's neglect. Nor can he be pleased the president has quit on the war in Afghanistan, but left the troops in harm's way. He must be distressed by Mr. Obama's plans to slash spending for defense.
In his new job, Gen. Petraeus must be appalled by two recent intelligence breaches traceable to the White House.
• The CIA foiled an al-Qaida plot to bomb an airliner when a double-agent persuaded the bomb makers to turn the new bomb over to him, The Associated Press reported May 8.
The CIA had nothing to do with this. The double-agent worked for British intelligence, which was furious because the AP story blew an ongoing operation.
White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan had disclosed in a teleconference with frequent guests on TV news shows that the U.S. had a man on the inside.
This was not the first time Mr. Brennan's loose lips have hurt our country. The Navy SEALs who killed Osama bin Laden also captured a lot of documents. When Mr. Brennan publicly disclosed their existence, he drained them of much of their intelligence value.
• An Obama appointee in the Department of Defense disclosed the true identity of SEAL Team Six's commander to a Hollywood producer.
This abuse of intelligence for partisan political purposes can't be sitting well with the patriot at Langley.
Why might Mr. Romney want him on the ticket?
Mr. Romney has economic expertise, but no experience in national security. A Romney-Petraeus ticket would be "balanced" in a way most beneficial to the country. If the economy is the dominant issue, Mr. Obama will try to distract attention from it, in part by trumpeting his alleged "accomplishments" in foreign policy. The presence of Gen. Petraeus on the GOP ticket would turn that strategy to ashes.
We assume the economy will be the dominant issue. But if there is a big war in the Middle East this fall, our assumptions may change.
Important questions must be answered before "Vice President Petraeus" is more than an intriguing possibility. We don't know whether he's a Republican or a Democrat. But we didn't know that about Gen. Dwight Eisenhower either, before 1952. That worked out OK.
First Published June 1, 2012 3:50 pm