Petraeus’ Indifference Problem

Peter Beinart has a pretty clever column about how it would be good if David Petraeus ran for President as a Republican in 2012. It’s clever in the sense that he uses the conceit to make various smart points. But the conceit itself is dumb. Alex Massie makes some good points about this. But the larger issue is that there’s no evidence that the public cares at all about Petraeus’ signature issues. Stroll over to Polling Report’s problems and priorities page. A recent CBS News poll indicates that . . . nobody cares:


If you expand the choice set offered to people, you get somewhat different answers. For example, an August CNN/Opinion Research poll let people say “education” and it turns out that just as many people think this is the most important issue as think Iraq and Afghanistan is:


As it happens, former Bush administration Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings is, like David Petraeus, an example of a Bush administration official who you can find Democrats who’ll praise. But I don’t see anyone touting her as a likely presidential contender. Because, you know, she was a second-tier cabinet member working on a second-tier issue.