McCain's Petraeus Problem

Following up on an earlier item, John McCain’s decision to use a photo of Gen. David Petraeus, in uniform, without his permission, in a fundraising appeal is starting to generate some attention.

Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reminded those in uniform this week to steer clear of the political arena during the election season. “The U.S. military must remain apolitical at all times and in all ways,” Mullen said.

The McCain campaign responded this afternoon that using the picture of a general without his permission in a fundraising letter is entirely consistent with Mullen’s directive.

McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers says using the image of Petraeus is not at all contrary to the spirit of Mullen’s directive. “We’re not suggesting General Petraeus has endorsed anyone in this race. I’m sure you’ll find (attached is one example) that Senator Obama has used pictures of himself with troops in the course of this campaign.”

Now, you can go ahead and look at the image the McCain campaign referred to on Barack Obama’s website and judge for yourself whether it’s in anyway similar to the image McCain used of Petraeus. I think any fair look at this shows how extremely different they are — Obama is shown shaking hands with an anonymous soldier, whose face we can barely see in the picture, while McCain uses Petraeus’ image in a fundraising appeal. The prior is a small picture of a senator meeting a serviceman. The letter is an appeal for cash with McCain tying himself to the head of U.S. operations in Iraq.

The McCain campaign said, “We’re not suggesting General Petraeus has endorsed anyone in this race.” No, they’re just suggesting Gen. Petraeus is a campaign prop that should be used — without his permission — to get Republican donors to pony up some checks.

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