- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 7, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The idea that Sen. Barack Obama is so much more arrogant than Sen. John McCain is patently absurd (“Obama is who he is,” Op-Ed, Wednesday). The person running to be the leader of the free world is going to be arrogant. Mr. McCain is as arrogant as they come. His entire career in Congress has been based on the arrogance of his positions. The greatest writers, athletes, etc. are arrogant. Both presidential candidates are presumptive in their approaches. Mr. McCain certainly is not a shrinking violet.

Do you think Theodore Roosevelt was not supremely confident in his abilities to run the country? He had no doubts whatsoever that he belonged in the White House. He was literate, a great orator and as arrogant as any man who ever ran. I think he turned out to be a pretty decent president.

Also, the United States is not a military junta. The president, although commander in chief of the armed forces, is a civilian for a reason. One has only to look at past wars to understand why. During the Vietnam War, Gen. William C. Westmoreland and Gen. Curtis E. LeMay were not honest in their assessments, and President Johnson finally found out too late. Abraham Lincoln got little or no honest assessment from Gen. George B. McClellan, who felt that chasing the Army of Northern Virginia and destroying it was out of the question.

Gen. David H. Petraeus is a career officer. He was handpicked by President Bush after Mr. Bush had fired many others who didn’t agree with him. Gen. Petraeus tells us that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror when, according to the National Intelligence Report al Qaeda constitutes just 2 percent of the combatants in Iraq.

In the meantime in Afghanistan, al Qaeda has thousands of new recruits in its reconstituted camps. The Taliban is once again a powerful group. Is Gen. Petraeus giving us the right assessments? It is the president who makes that judgment, not the generals. That’s the way it should be.

HARRY SCHWARZ

Agoura Hills, Calif.

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