MR. GREGORY: But is there, is there a cutoff point for him in your mind?

GEN. PETRAEUS: Oh, no. I mean, again, this is a process. Again, this is a, a case in which each side has concerns and has, I mean, there are different pressures on all of the partners involved in this, not just the U.S. and Afghan partners, but the other international partners, our other diplomatic colleagues and so forth, and, and all of that then gets dealt with.

4. That Petraeus is one helluva pitchman. Both in print and on the tube, Petraeus showed once again that he might be the anti-McChrystal—gaffe-free, able to skirt questions and explain for readers and viewers the elasticity of the deadline set by the president. Between the papers and Gregory, Petraeus managed to mix folksy realism—“This isn’t to say that there is any kind of objective of turning Afghanistan into Switzerland in three to five years or less—Afghan good enough is good enough”—with determination—“The president didn’t send me over here to seek a graceful exit…My marching orders are to do all that is humanly possible to help us achieve our objectives”—while never giving too much away.

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Joel Meares is a former CJR assistant editor.