See Update at foot with list of Petraeus press appearances.
The gravest charge you can level at a military man, as MoveOn.org essentially did to Gen. Petraeus with its infamous "General Betray Us" ad, is to call him a traitor.
But close behind in the catalog of calumny is to call a soldier a coward. And that's effectively what Frank Rich did in his [p.p.v.] New York Times column of today.
Writes Rich [emphasis added]:
General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker could grab an hour of prime television time only by slinking into the safe foxhole of Fox News, where Brit Hume chaperoned them on a gloomy, bunkerlike set before an audience of merely 1.5 million true believers.
So this is the portrait Frank Rich paints, not just at home, but to our enemies abroad, of the four-star general who is our commander in Iraq: a coward who slinks off into safe foxholes.
Let's review some of General Petraeus's record, beyond his current service as commander of MNF-Iraq.
- Commanded the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), during which he led the “Screaming Eagles” in combat throughout the first year of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
- Four awards of the Legion of Merit
- Bronze Star Medal for valor
- Master Parachutist, Air Assault and Ranger qualified
- Combat Action Badge and French, British, and German Jump Wings
All of which is not to question Rich's valor, of course. It does take a special kind of courage to stay through the second act of some of those Broadway musicals.
No one should question the right of the Times columnist to criticize our Iraq policy. But calling our brave commander there a coward is contemptible.
UPDATE: Here is a list of General Petraeus's press appearances following his testimony, in addition to the Fox News interview that Rich cited.
- National Press Club (1.5 hours of Q&A; joint appearance wth Amb. Crocker)
- PBS NewsHour (joint appearance wth Amb. Crocker)
- CNN (Situation Room, Anderson Cooper, American Morning)
- Charlie Rose
- USA Today editoral board
- Washington Post editorial board