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Who had the worst week in Washington? Gen. David Petraeus.

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By Chris Cillizza
Sunday, June 27, 2010

Most reasonable people would look at the past several days and immediately conclude that Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal had the absolute no-doubt worst week in Washington.

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Make derogatory comments about the vice president, national security adviser and the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan -- and have them reported in Rolling Stone? Check. Fly 15 hours across the planet for semi-public tongue-lashing from the president? Check. Be ousted from your post as top commander of the war in Afghanistan? Check.

Lucky for you, we're not reasonable. While McChrystal is the obvious pick, he isn't our choice. That honor goes to Gen. David H. Petraeus, the man President Obama chose to replace McChrystal.

For starters, pending Senate approval, Petraeus will leave the relatively comfortable environs of Tampa, where he oversees the U.S. Central Command, for Kabul -- not quite a vacation destination.

Much more vital, Petraeus will become co-proprietor with Obama of a war that many military strategists say is unwinnable -- even for a strategic guru like Petraeus. McChrystal's own chief of operations offered perhaps the most telling quote in the Rolling Stone article: "It's not going to look like a win, smell like a win or taste like a win."

The challenges of Afghanistan mean that Petraeus is risking the reputation he earned in Iraq as one of the greatest generals of his generation for what is, at best, a jump ball. The move feels even more dicey considering Petraeus's alternative: polishing his legacy at Centcom on the way to the chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Finally, Petraeus has been regarded in some GOP circles as the best (only?) candidate with a chance of beating Obama in 2012. While that has always been a long shot, it now seems like a no-shot.

Sometimes being really good at your job is a curse, not a blessing. And so it was this week for Petraeus, who won the Fix's "Worst Week in Washington." Congrats, or something.

Have a candidate for the Worst Week in Washington? E-mail chris.cillizza@wpost.com with your nominees.

Can't remember who had the Worst Week last week?


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