Tim Russert, recounting his inside dope on the meeting of the President with a group of Republican Congressmen yesterday, quotes the President (link):
I don’t want to pass this off to another president. I don’t want to pass this off particularly to a Democratic president.
I had thought the whole point of the surge was precisely to pass it off to another president—let Hillary pull the Republican’s chestnuts out of the fire, so she will be the goat, and the GOP will come roaring back to power in 2012.
But this sentence makes sense only if the President thinks he is going to win, and doesn’t want a Dem to get credit for the success. Can it be that he really believes this stuff?
Alternate take: if, for whatever reason, he is worried about “passing it off to another president,” he must not be listening to General Petraeus. Best I can tell Petraeus, with a fine eye for intellectual honesty but a tin ear for politics, is saying exactly that—that we can’t possibly be done during this administration, and that it will be years before we see the kind of results that Petraeus wants.
Russert ignored all possibilities for speculation here, except to say that the President’s remark “underscore[es] that he understood how serious the situation was,” but I can’t imagine what in blazes takes him there.