Famously fit General David Petraeus momentarily collapsed during a particularly intense Senate Armed Services hearing on the military's progress in Afghanistan. The Hill's Roxana Tiron reports that Petraeus lost consciousness while being questioned by Senator John McCain, passing out in front of his microphone before quickly recovering. The hearing went into recess as Petraeus "joked that he had felt 'lightheaded,'" pinning the incident on dehydration.



Given Petraeus's stoic demeanor as head of U.S. Central Command, pundits are speculating as to the underlying reasons for the general's fainting spell.

  • Trouble In Afghanistan? Politico's Jen Dimascio suggests that the stress of managing the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan got to Petraeus during a line of intense questioning. "Petraeus’s collapse did come as Levin and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had wrapped up a pointed round of questions about his support for the president's plan to start withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in July 2011," reports Dimascio. "At the hearing’s outset, McCain called the current situation in Afghanistan possibly a 'mounting crisis,' and he called on the president to scrap his current timetable for withdraw."
  • Trouble With His Health? "Last year, Petraeus received treatment for early-stage prostate cancer," the Chicago Tribune's Julian Barnes reminds us. "But the general is obsessed with physical fitness, and prides himself on his endurance." In contrast, Daniel Foster at the National Review Online senses an isolated incident. "Apparently, the CENTCOM commander had not taken food or water before the hearing. In case you didn't know, the guy is generally in pretty good shape." Michelle Malkin offers a jovial rejoinder: "Gatorade and Power Bars, stat."
  • Trouble With a Guilty Conscience? Lew Rockwell is far from sympathetic. "Did Petraeus fall asleep while talking to McCain at a phony hearing, or was it the weight of all the innocents he’s collaterally damaged on his conscience, or his killion [sic] 'medals'?" seethes Rockwell. "He claims he was water deprived, just like his prisoners in the camps. BTW, look for this man on a pale horse to run for president as a Republican."