- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 11, 2007

While enjoying a beer and pizza yesterday at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3233 in Sarasota, Fla., Jon May watched Gen. David H. Petraeus‘ Iraq war testimony with only passing interest.

“It’s pretty much what I expected,” said Mr. May, a Vietnam War veteran. “I wouldn’t call it rosy, but it’s pretty much what the administration would like to hear.”

The Capitol Hill testimony of Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker on the progress of the Iraq war was all the buzz in Washington, but much of the country was far less captivated.

Many Americans doubt the report will change the course of the war, regardless of what it says.

“I don’t see how this is going to make any difference because Bush has his mind made up,” Steve Maertzweiler said while serving drinks at Hooligan’s Super Bar in Milwaukee. “They’re trying to say the surge is working, but then you hear from other reports that it isn’t.”

At the Dublin Bar in Dayton, Ohio, no patrons asked yesterday afternoon to turn one of the two televisions to coverage of the hearing.

“Mostly all the talk in here has been about the first week of [NFL] football,” said bartender Clint Croucher.

Mr. May noted that Gen. Petraeus is in the unenviable position of having to critique — and potentially criticize — the president’s war policy.

“When you’re in the Army, you don’t do that,” he said. “I think Petraeus is a competent and very bright fellow, but he’s in a pickle.”

A Rasmussen Reports poll found that 54 percent of Americans do not expect the administration”s progress report to change their opinion about the war.

In a CNN poll, 43 percent of respondents said they would trust the report’s findings.

Still, James Fitzpatrick, commander of VFW Post 2872 in Athens, Ga., said he had faith that Gen. Petraeus would deliver an accurate account.

“Yeah, I would trust the general. He’s in a good position to talk about the conditions on the battlefield,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said while helping open the post’s bar yesterday afternoon.

“I would hope that he will speak his mind and tell the people what’s really going on.”

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