Kevin Drum notes that the American public expects General David Petraeus will
lie under oath to congress “try to make things look better than they are” in Iraq rather than give sworn testimony that “will reflect the situation in Iraq.” It’s worth emphasizing in this regard how much the high regard in which Petraeus is held is a purely inside phenomenon. In particular, politicians and reporters alike who’ve spoken with Petraeus all seem to be very impressed with him. Consequently, other people like me who haven’t ever spoken with him, picked up some of this sentiment through osmosis.
The reality, though, doesn’t really seem to live up to the Legend of David Petraeus, and I’m not sure anything could. And the public is largely unfamiliar with the legend in the first place. So while Democrats should certainly be respectful when he testifies, there’s no reason to be super-deferential. If some other Bush administration appointee showed up and said some stuff that didn’t seem to be true, Democrats would give him shit about it and the public would expect them to. This situation, at the end of the day, isn’t really any different.
UPDATE: Just to drive the point home, Ed Gillespie’s set up a branch of the White House communications staff that’s “hard wired” into Petraeus’ shop. Which, again, is what you’d expect when a Bush appointee goes to congress for some high-profile testimony and illustrates the point that Petraeus should be treated accordingly.