Carol Felsenthal
On politics

Rahm Emanuel and David Petraeus

The man that the White House—then Chief-of-Staff Rahm in particular—feared most as a 2012 opponent on the Republican ticket was the brilliant, disciplined general.


Our mayor is an above-the-national-news-fold kind of guy. So no surprise to me that in a Sunday New York Times story, Rahm appears in the account of the stunning resignation of four-star retired General David Petraeus, 60—architect of the successful surge in Iraq, commander in both Iraq and Afghanistan, Princeton PhD, and, until President Obama accepted his resignation on Friday, director of the CIA. (Petraeus resigned after news broke that an FBI criminal investigation showed he had carried on an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, 40, leaving him vulnerable to blackmail.)

It seems that the man the White House—then Chief-of-Staff Rahm in particular—feared most as a 2012 opponent on the Republican ticket was the brilliant, disciplined (think triathlete with a six-minute mile) Petraeus. In his 2010 Obama book The Promise, Jonathan Alter describes Petraeus as “ferociously ambitious” and a registered Republican in New Hampshire who was “well positioned to run as a Colin Powell-type alternative to Mitt Romney….” 

Petraeus kept insisting he wasn’t interested—“What part of no don’t you understand?”—but Rahm is not the sort to leave anything to chance. So he had his talk with Petraeus and, according the Times, received assurances that Petraeus “had no intention of running for president.”

Also known for his networking prowess, Mayor Emanuel used that meeting earlier this year when he asked Patraeus to serve as grand marshal of Chicago’s Memorial Day parade. “The mayor, hizzoner, hit me up in Washington a couple of months ago at some event, and I said I’d be honored to do it,” Petraeus said. A photo from the event shows Emanuel, CIA director Petraeus, and Patraeus’s now humiliated wife of 38 years, Holly, walking on North State Street.

Petraeus likely won’t be marching in any Chicago parades anytime soon, but a look at Bill Clinton’s post presidency, his slide into ignominy after an Oval Office affair, and his return to soaring popularity and respect, should assure that the ex-CIA director can soon start to take the first steps to redemption. He’s probably ruined his chances of becoming president of Princeton, where he was awarded his PhD in 1987. (He was often mentioned as having a good shot at that job.)


Photography: Chicago Tribune


2 years ago
Posted by john dahodi

Obama and his team very cleverly and decisively hid the CIA secret keeping Romney and his cronies to cry too long for the spill milk. After all Chicago has her own reputation too!!!!

2 years ago
Posted by parkerpal

This story was stunning and it's vapor trails fascinating to follow as they appear.....the Cantor foreknowledge, the identity of the other woman and the Republican propensity to jump on anything to investigate...... Listening to the continued praise for Petraeus on yesterday's morning talk was sad, not least of all Peggy Noonan questioning why he had to resign. David Brooks was equally effusive in his praise, urging everyone to contact Princeton if they had any ties. No one seems to mention that there is a woman in this who has been betrayed and humiliated in the most brutal way. And when you add the fact that Broadwell expounded on her physical prowess and the jogging, it makes poor Holly look all the more like the frowsy woman who couldn't keep her man. I've heard such praise in the past for her work with the veterans and she was one of the first to lend the Consumer Protection Bureau some bipartisan credibility by joining it to work on financial help for them. And certainly she has dedicated her life to supporting this country every bit as much as he, raising the family while he was gone, moving constantly and serving as sounding board for his ambitions, fears and hopes. No one has even spoken of what this means for her, just that his brilliant career and considerable talents were now shattered. It's another kind of Republican insensitivity to women.

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