There’s that great Faulkner quote about every Southern boy being able to imagine himself at will into Pickett’s charge:
For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it’s still not yet two oclock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it’s all in the balance, it hasn’t happened yet, it hasn’t even begun yet, it not only hasn’t begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armstead and Wilcox look grave yet it’s going to begin, we all know that, we have come too far with too much at stake and that moment doesn’t need even a fourteen-year-old boy to think This time. Maybe this time with all this much to lose and all this much to gain: Pennsylvania, Maryland, the world, the golden dome of Washington itself to crown with desperate and unbelievable victory the desperate gamble, the cast made two years ago…
By contrast a neoconservative columnist is able to, in similar fashion, imagine himself torching homes in Columbia with General Sherman.
On November 9 2012, news broke of the Paula Broadwell/David Petraeus affair, ending the career of America’s top celebrity-general and immediately putting a stop to rumors regarding his plans to run for office, possibly on a presidential ticket in 2016. Our Caesar of counterinsurgency was not to be, and Victor Davis Hanson was so shocked he had trouble believing it. He wrote that Petraeus’ resignation was “bizarre” in his column that month, and asked the sort of questions that would get him called a fifth columnist or truther if he’d been asking them about 9/11 or the Iraq war: “How and why did the FBI investigate the Petraeus matter? To whom and when did it report its findings? And what was the administration reaction?”
The next month he wrote a “short history of amorous generals” to make sure we knew that it’s OK, because lots of generals do this kind of thing.
Finding out one of one’s saviors is a philanderer is understandably shocking; and as of November 8, Hanson, reportedly one of Dick Cheney’s favorite dinner guests, had already decided to include Petraeus as one of the five “Savior Generals” covered in his book by the same name, which would appear in May 2013. He first applied the term to Petraeus in 2009, calling him the “maverick savior of Iraq,” and despite the failures of his COIN strategy and the chaos engulfing the north of the benighted country today, the Petraeus myth remains key to the conservative argument that everything was going fine in Iraq until perfidious Obama withdrew. Needless to say, Sherman is another one of Hanson’s saviors (and is also treated here).