By the end of George W. Bush's second term David Petraeus was the country's most famous military man, carpeting the media with interviews and pressing the flesh on Capitol Hill. The general who personified the Iraq troop surge is still around, and spoke up in strategy sessions with Barack Obama this week, but Petraeus has taken a back seat to Stanley McChrystal and rarely makes public statements. Petraeus' advisers, speaking anonymously to the New York Times, are now calling him "Dave the Dull."
Petraeus' mouth-shut strategy might actually increase his influence with Obama—note how quickly administration officials blasted McChrystal for pushing an Afghan surge in the media. Yet Petraeus clearly has a chillier relationship with this president than the last, not least because of continuing speculation that the general may run himself in 2012. Rahm Emanuel insists that "the president's not thinking that way," but a retired Army colonel says the White House is "rightly a little suspicious of him."