In May, Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen published a letter to uniformed soldiers warning that “the U.S. military must remain apolitical at all times.” Five days later, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was forced to publicly apologize for using a picture of himself with Gen. David Petraeus in campaign fundraising materials, saying, “It won’t happen again.”
Yesterday, however, the McCain campaign once again politicized the military and Gen. Petraeus, now the Central Command chief, by floating the idea of asking Petraeus to be McCain’s vice presidential pick:
People close to the campaign also floated a wild-card choice, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq. They said it was not beyond the realm of possibility that Mr. McCain would ask him to join the ticket, although General Petraeus has no experience in elective government and has said repeatedly that he is not interested in the vice presidency. … The adviser said the campaign was putting forth his name in part in a bid for attention.
McCain and the right wing have consistently tried to use Petraeus to boost their partisan causes. The New York Sun and the National Review fantasized over a Petraeus presidency. Bill Kristol championed Petraeus as a GOP vice presidential pick, and conservative columnist Tim Hanes declared a McCain-Petraeus team “the dream ticket.”
McCain seems to be following Bush’s lead, who has politicized the military to an unprecedented extent. Bush heralded Petraeus as “the best messenger” for White House policy in Iraq, has called Petraeus to Washington “to purely make political statements,” and has sent him in the place of political appointees to defend Bush’s Iraq policy before Congress.
Unfortunately for McCain, Petraeus has said he would refuse to ever run for office.