Piling On Petraeus

The Times takes a cheap shot at Gen. Petraeus: "We hope Congress is not fooled by the silver stars, charts and rhetoric of yesterday's hearing."

Times writers and editors piled on Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq,during the week before his testimony before Congress on the military situation there and the progress of the troop increase.

Here's an excerpt from Sunday's lead editorial, "Hiding Behind the General."

"General Petraeus has his own credibility problems. He overstepped in 2004 when he published an op-ed article in The Washington Post six weeks before the election. The general - then in charge of training and equipping Iraq's security forces - rhapsodized about 'tangible progress' and how the Iraqi forces were 'developing steadily,' an assessment that may have swayed some voters but has long since proved to be untrue....As Congress waited anxiously for General Petraeus's testimony, a flurry of well-timed news reports said that he told the White House he could go along with the withdrawal of about 4,000 American troops beginning in January but wanted to maintain increased force levels well into next year - just like Mr. Bush. Democrats who once demanded a firm date for the start of a troop pullout immediately started backpedaling."

The Times didn't mention that Petraeus was unanimously confirmed by the Democratic-controlled Senate earlier this year as commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, making it odd for Democrats to attack him as a Bush partisan.

The Times was also the most prominent media outlet to run the notorious full-page ad by the left-wing MoveOn.org. The ad, which appeared in the A-section of the Times, featured bold letters under a picture of Petraeus reading "General Petraeus or General Betray us? - Cooking the Books for the White House." Even Sen. John Kerry called it "over the top."

Alleged economics columnist Paul Krugman, again cribbing from the left-wing blogosphere, joined the pre-pile-on in his two columns last week, saying last Monday that "General Petraeus's history also suggests that he is much more of a political, and indeed partisan, animal than his press would have you believe," and also bringing up the Washington Post op-ed.

The actual news coverage of Petraeus's first day of testimony was pretty straightforward. But Tuesday's editorial after Petraeus's first day of testimony before Congress, "Empty Calories," took a shot at Petraeus's medals while suggesting his testimony was blather: "We hope Congress is not fooled by the silver stars, charts and rhetoric of yesterday's hearing."

(Speaking of not being fooled by silver stars, the Times was certainly dazzled by John Kerry's questionable medals during the 2004 presidential campaign.)

The editorial concluded:

"For that matter, they deserve more than what was offered by Representative Ike Skelton, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. When protesters interrupted the hearing, Mr. Skelton ordered them removed from the room, which is understandable. But then he said that they would be prosecuted. That seemed like an unnecessarily authoritarian response to people who just wanted to be heard."

Actually, weren't they trying to stop Gen. Petraeus from being heard?