04/07/2008 12:49 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Reading The Pictures: General Love


I was wondering how long it was going to take before Frank Rich returned from "vanquishing Hillary land." His piece Saturday was spot-on, outlining the invisible disaster formerly known as the Iraq War. In light of his narrative, I find yesterday's NYT Week In Review story previewing General Petraeus's testimony to Congress this week simply mind-blowing.

Having enabled the ethnic cleansing of a country; pacified warring Sunni tribes through flat-out bribery (with no resulting structural change and no end in sight); and then having claimed credit for a (only fractionally successful) so-called surge leveraged on the back of al-Sadr's cease-fire, here was the NYT yesterday effectively promoting the General as a potential vice-presidential or even presidential candidate! (And not only that, but the article actually cites "loathsome buzz" from liberal bloggers as escalating the wave!)

In an admittedly brilliant accompanying slide show, the Times produces a series of photos of military rock-stars through modern U.S. history captured at their telegenic best. (The MacArthur shot is priceless, nailing the incestuous relationship between war biz and show biz.)

But it's this Petraeus shot, paired with the article, which concerns me. Like the other photos, it equates the camera's love with presidential worthiness. But what happened to the irony? On the threshold of a critical appearance before Congress, following the near Shiite meltdown of Babel two weeks ago, it's apparently 2003 all over again.

Setting the table for an accounting, I look at this grand entrance and all I see is fawning.

Tet Happened, and No One Cared (Frank Rich/NYT)
Generally Speaking (NYT Week In Review)
Political Generals (NYT slide show)
The Petraeus Insurgency (BAGnewsNotes)

(Jim Young/Reuters. Washington. September 2007.