When Republican politicians start criticizing the Pentagon brass, however, something stranger is going on. As Benen states:
Keep in mind, it wasn't too terribly long ago that Democratic politicians simply weren't supposed to say that Petraeus, Gates, and intelligence leaders were wrong about national security matters. Indeed, for Dems to say that they knew better than Petraeus, Gates, and intelligence leaders -- that their judgment was superior to military leaders' -- was grounds for mockery, if not condemnation.
And yet, Obama has spent a year following the guidance of military leaders, and Republicans have spent a year breaking with the judgment of the military establishment.
It's a fascinating dynamic. On everything from civilian trials to Gitmo to torture, we have two distinct groups -- GOP leaders, the Cheneys, Limbaugh, and conservative activists on one side; President Obama, Gen. Petraeus, Secretary Gates, Colin Powell, Adm. Mullen, Adm. Blair, and Gen. Jones on the other.
Remember when Move-On had the audacity to take out ads criticizing General Petraeus before he testified before Congress on the surge policy in Iraq? Congress fell all over itself, not to have an honest debate about the validity of the criticisms, but to condemn this organization for daring to criticize a distinguished general.
Of course I'm not saying that anyone should question the patriotism or the judgment of a politician, just because he finds himself in disagreement with military experts. The whole point of civilian control of the military is to make sure the judgment of military commanders is subservient to the democratic process. I'm just saying that it is . . . interesting, that many of those who did question the patriotism of past dissenters during the Iraq war, and who did argue that we must follow the views of the generals on the ground, now feel free to criticize some of those same generals, and feel no need to explain why their past deference has changed.
(New York Times photo)