David Petraeus For Vice President is Too Good to Be True
The most recent conservative flight-of-fancy is a rumor that General David Petraeus may be tapped to be Mitt Romney's pick for the VP slot on the ticket. Like former Secretary or State Condoleezza Rice, Petraeus is too good of a pick to be true.
The general is often known colloquially as the warrior-scholar. For those who put stock in college degrees, he's got more than Obama and Romney combined, boasting a PhD from Princeton, which was recently ranked as a smarter school than Harvard, securing the Number 1 spot on US News' top colleges this year.
The general's PhD was in International Relations, and even without that degree no one on Earth can doubt his experience in the realm of foreign policy. Like Condoleezza Rice, Petraeus rounds out the ticket, adding the crucial national security and foreign policy experience Romney lacks. This would also negate whatever edge Obama may have had otherwise on foreign policy, though his own gaffe-ridden first term has already cheapened his foreign policy experience for him.
Petraeus also fulfills another crucial role. One that other potential names thrown around can't. Like Dick Cheney did for George W. Bush, and everyone thought Biden would do for Obama, Petraeus wouldn't just be waiting around for the off-chance that Romney becomes indisposed, but would be an active player in the Romney administration. Actually putting the perceived value of his experience to use. Something I personally usually prefer in my vice presidential candidates.
Petraeus also has complete cross-party appeal. He has managed to stay relatively off-the-record on most controversial issues of today. He is highly respected world-wide and is one of only a handful of people in recent memory to receive a unaminous confirmation (94-0) by the Senate when he was appointed to direct the CIA.
He has broad appeal outside of congress as well. His list of military decorations include 15 foreign awards. US News and World Report ranked him America's top leader in 2005, Esquire named him in the top 75 Best People in the World in 2009, and he was knighted by the Dutch.
But he's also a serious power player. Several magazine's "top" lists have placed him towards the tip of most influential people in D.C. over the last few years. When he talks, everyone listens. He is universally recognized as an expert in his field and not one prone to posturing and politicking.
Imagining General Petraeus on the campaign trail, however, is like imagining a fish walking around on land ... drinking a beer. It is almost impossible to picture him in anything but a ribbon-encrusted uniform, and the thought of him in khakis and a polo shirt, chatting up a couple out-of-shape locals about their taxes in a diner off the side of a highway in Ohio is about as odd as Pat Robertson in drag.
An excellent strategy to play to Petraeus's strengths would be town hall meetings like John McCain ran in 2008. While he is certainly impressive, he somehow manages to be more ratable than Mitt Romney does (not that hard actually) and would shine in a setting where he can address voters questions and concerns with measured and intelligent responses.
He would absolutely crush Joe Biden in the VP debate. While Joe is no fool (though he seems to play one on TV) and does have a wealth of experience, he is prone to gaffes and exaggerations that someone like Petraeus would pick apart with ease, and would find himself quickly flustered by Petraeus' direct and persistent offence. Though Petraeus seems like a one trick pony, his expertise concentrated in foreign policy and defense, he actually has a very distinguished academic career and has been known to apply the same rigor he applies to military training to studying. Unlike Sarah Palin, who never seemed to quite learn her issues, Petraeus would be an expert in them within a week of being nominated. If in fact he is being courted for the VP slot, and intends on accepting it, he is probably an expert on the issues already. It's been 8 years since we got to see Cheney embarrass John Edwards. We're long due for some entertainment this election cycle.
Romney is already on a slow but steady trend to winning this election, but adding Petraeus to the ticket would completely change the game and throw all the old polls out the window. If Petraeus is chosen, he could easily win the entire thing for Romney, but only if the campaign uses him correctly, otherwise he could backfire epically. Unlike Condoleezza Rice who is very well respected, but still seen as a normal person and politician, General Petraeus carries such an enormous amount of weight, gravity, and respect that he runs the risk of making the ticket even more off-putting than it is already. Being number two, even to someone as accomplished like Romney, is weird enough. Petraeus needs to appear relatable without it looking unnatural, and bring the same folksy image to the campaign that Joe Biden somehow manages to bring to Obama's ticket. For a once in a generation leader-scholar-soldier like General Petraeus, that is easier said than done.