The Window Shifts
Hirsh: Rating Petraeus’s Report to the Hill - Newsweek Michael Hirsh - MSNBC.com: "Petraeus’s draw-down recommendations have outraged critics of the war who accuse him of merely doing Bush's bidding and adjusting his recommendations to the politics of the Hill. (“General Betray Us,” the leftwing group MoveOn.org called him in a series of newspaper ads on Monday.) Even some supporters of the surge effort wonder whether Petraeus isn’t thinking as much about selling the war as winning it. “It depends on how this recommendation is framed,” said Dan Senor, a former top official with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq who is now working part-time as an adviser to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. “If it’s framed as a recommendation out of a position of strength, that things are going well and therefore we can afford to reduce our troop levels, that’s fine. If, however, it is interpreted as throwing a bone to Congress, in order to placate Congress at expense of our operational capacity, then that’s not good.”"
The MoveOn ad was a bomb in the wall of elite opinion. It created a breach. We could condemn the extremity of the ad and allow the breach to be filled in with those condemnations. Or we could use the breach as an opportunity to present the "reasonable" case against Petraeus.
We are starting to see this now with articles like the above. The success of the White House PR effort depended on the elite opinion makers treating Petraeus with deference and a hands-off approach. MoveOn's ad, while offensive, blasted through that effort. It has created an environment in which it is safer to ask questions about Petraeus' credibility.