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Petraeus Lovefest Was Calm Before The Storm

Petraeus
Gen. David H. Petraeus. AP

With Democrats and Republicans at each other's throats on everything from financial reform to energy, there was a momentary breeze of bipartisanship in Washington today. General David Petraeus was confirmed 99 - 0 to replace General Stanley McChrystal in Afghanistan.

The back-slapping didn't last long - it was quickly re-directed toward the face.

At a town hall in Racine, Wisconsin, the President seized on House Republican Leader John Boehner's recent comment that the Democrats' financial reform bill is like "killing an ant with a nuclear weapon."

In the high-pitched tone the president uses only when he's really worked up, he said of Boehner:

"He compared the financial crisis to an ant! This is the same financial crisis that led to the loss of nearly eight million jobs. The same crisis that cost people their homes, their lives savings. He can't be that out of touch with the struggles of American families and if he is then he's got to come here to Racine and ask people what they think! Maybe i'm confused, do you think the financial crisis was an ant and we need a little ant swatter to fix this thing?!"

Boehner fired back, accusing the President (and all the other Democrats who have jumped on this political bandwagon) of intentionally misinterpreting his remarks. He said the President was engaging in "childish partisanship."

So after a brief respite Washington is back to normal.

And truthfully, even the unanimous Petraeus confirmation was very deceptive. It's the calm before a level 5 storm. Yes, all Senators appear to respect him personally and believe - or at least hope -- he's the best chance for success.

But if President Obama sticks to his deadline and starts bringing troops home next summer without regard to conditions on the ground, Republicans, led by John McCain will explode. And if he doesn't bring home lots of troops, the left will go nuts. Today's partisanship will seem quaint by comparison.

And David "99-0" Petraeus will be smack in the middle of it.


Chip Reid CBS
Chip Reid is CBS News' chief White House correspondent. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here.
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