By Bernie Quigley
For The Hill on 3/27/13
If as has been widely suggested, CPAC 2016 marked a paradigm change, a generational change, a new direction of conservatism, it is possible to speculate that one that fits the new paradigm could be president in 2016. Among them: Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Texas Governor Rick Perry and Sarah Palin, all of whom starred at the CPAC convention. For any one of these, the perfect choice for VP should be David Petraeus.
Patraeus always wanted to be president. He still does. His admission to the affair was timed to the wire to get it out of the way – to publicly atone and honor his wife and enter again the path. There is no more common foible for a man his age. It happens. And Petraeus along with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates retrieved the country’s karma when we had skidded entirely off the rocks.
It had been a long time coming. The army under Tommy Franks was a mess for a long time. There hadn’t been a fight in a long time. When the snob schools in the northeast dropped ROTC it made for a South Baptist army corps and this has only now begun to repair. All these things dangerously destabilized and endangered the integrity of America. Petraeus, warrior scholar with a PhD from Princeton, began to bring it back.
Patraeus and Gates brought us back in a desperate situation. One of them, and I doubt Gates wants it, is necessary to stabilize the memory of a misbegotten war and restore order and continuity to the mind collectively. Especially if we are going to see big changes ahead as Cruz and Paul promise, Petrause as VP would assure America and help keep the keel in the water.
Patraeus is not part of the new thinking of Paul, the libertarians, and the young conservatives of CPAC 2013 – “states rights, sound money, constitutional government.” The general’s job is to stabilize and execute ideas already awakened and bring them forward, as Washington did with Hamilton, Grant with Lincoln and Eisenhower with Roosevelt. The combination of innovator/warrior – some management types call it the Merlin/Arthur combination - is possibly the most creative and successful management constellation.
There can be no doubt that Rand Paul and Ted Cruz bring exciting new idea to America. But as Rick Perry has said, the president’s first job is national defense - so much else can be deferred to the states in the view of Jackson and Jefferson, but not national defense. A military figure with the status of Petraeus would make this case. A general as VP would reassure the public that the rebel libertarians are not going to dismantle America. Rand Paul is not his father. Patraeus as his VP would assure the public. And for the others as well.