Another new arrival in the West Wing set up a rapid-response PR unit hard-wired into Petraeus's shop. Ed Gillespie, the new presidential counselor, organized daily conference calls at 7:45 a.m. and again late in the afternoon between the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, and the U.S. Embassy and military in Baghdad to map out ways of selling the surge.
From the start of the Bush plan, the White House communications office had been blitzing an e-mail list of as many as 5,000 journalists, lawmakers, lobbyists, conservative bloggers, military groups and others with talking points or rebuttals of criticism. Between Jan. 10 and last week, the office put out 94 such documents in various categories -- "Myths/Facts" or "Setting the Record Straight" to take issue with negative news articles, and "In Case You Missed It" to distribute positive articles or speeches.
This follows the revelation that Petraeus has had closed door strategy sessions with the Republican caucus,persistent rumors that Petraeus will run for President on the Republican ticket in 2012, and Petraeus's grad school buddy Michael O'Hanlon at the unaccountable Brookings Institution fomenting a PR offensive to bolster his friend's image. Now, I know that senior military leaders interweaving their military activities and messaging with partisan Republican operatives is nothing new and so we've all become somewhat desensitized to it, but technically speaking, America still is a republic.