He Can Do Whatever He Wants

And the nonsense continues (and I love James Fallows)…

Look, Obama doesn’t HAVE to fire McChrystal. Personally, I would, but I generally don’t trust people that arrogant with anything. Additionally, I’m sure Gates and company would like to rip out the good General’s heart and eat in front of the entire Pentagon brass. And Obama would be within his rights to fire him. Hell, he is within his rights to fire him for anything.

But Obama doesn’t have to do anything, and I hate how this constant din in the media manages to artificially place limits on the President’s ability to govern. If Obama decides the offense is forgivable and that he wants McChrystal to continue his job until the timeline is ended next year, that is well within his rights. It doesn’t make him “weak” should he do that, and firing McChrystal wouldn’t make him “strong.” Obama doesn’t “have” to do anything he doesn’t think is the right thing to do. If he decides the offense is unforgivable and would create such a bad precedent and a rift within his staff that he needs to be fired, so be it.

Can you imagine going through life with all this artificial nonsense dictating your decision making process? I like those shoes, but do they make me look “weak?” I really would like some spicy mustard on my sandwich, but is it too “elitist?” My employee is a mouthy little shit who gets the job done, but do I have to fire him to show I am “tough” even if doing so hurts my business? Sure, I’d like to go to the opera, but will that make me look like a pussy?

*** Update ***

James Joyner says I’m not reading this right:

In fairness to Fallows, he’s not arguing that Obama has to do it lest he look weak but rather because generals can’t be allowed to disrespect the chain of command.

McChrystal has committed a criminal offense in violation of Article 88 of the UCMJ, after all.

Does Obama “have” to fire McChrystal? Could he forgive this? No and yes were this happening in a vacuum. Given that there’s a pattern here, though, I think firing is the right course of action.

*** Update #2 ***

And, tucked away in the spam filter is Mr. Fallows:

Honored to be mentioned here, and appreciate the attention; but as a few of your commenters have mentioned, I didn’t say anything whatsoever about Obama needing to show his “strength” by firing McChrystal. Here are two relevant parts of the argument:

    It’s about civilian control of the military, respect for the chain of command, and the concepts of disrespect and insubordination. Every officer and enlisted person in every military branch is well schooled in what those concepts mean.
    If the facts are as they appear—McChrystal and his associates freely mocking their commander in chief and his possible successor (ie, Biden) and the relevant State Department officials (Holbrooke and Eikenberry)—with no contention that the quotes were invented or misconstrued, then Obama owes it to past and future presidents to draw the line and say: this is not tolerable. You must go.

And

    The first step is for the civilian Commander in Chief to act in accordance with Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution and demonstrate that there are consequences for showing open disrespect for the chain of command. And, yes, I would say the same thing in opposite political circumstances—if, for instance, a commander of Iraq operations had been quoted openly mocking George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Resign in protest: yes, a course of honor. But protest and mock while in uniform, no.

Just for the record: I understand the exasperation with the “Obama has to show his political strength” narrative. But that is not at all what I wrote, or is on my mind. (I take for granted that the right will attack him with equal ferocity but opposite arguments either way.) You can read it for yourself.

I think I’ve pretty clearly butchered his remarks and intent.

173 replies
  1. 1
    Jude says:

    Sure, I’d like to go to the opera, but will that make me look like a pussy?

    Yep.

    Pussy.

  2. 2
    TD says:

    Here, here!

  3. 3
    Mr Furious says:

    Word.

    Obama can’t win for losing in this or any other situation, he should just ignore the bullshit and do what actually works best for his policy. Whatever the fuck that is.

  4. 4
    stevie314159 says:

    Personally, I wouldn’t make a move without reading Sarah Palin’s tweets.

  5. 5
    stuckinred says:

    Not only does he have to fire him he also should be charged under Article 88 of the UCMJ.

    “Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”

  6. 6
    cleek says:

    doesn’t matter if he fires McChrystal or not. no matter what he does, we’ll still be stuck in Afghanistan forever. because, as Yglesias put it, “not prosecuting a military campaign in Afghanistan simply isn’t under consideration” .

  7. 7
    El Cid says:

    Obama could just publicly hug McChrystal and let the right demand his resignation for being too close to Obama. That, or the right will demand it anyway for McChrystal’s reputation as giving directives telling the forces in Afghanistan to avoid operations likely to kill civilians. What fun is that?

  8. 8
    John Cole says:

    @stuckinred: I’m reasonably sure Obama is not responsible for deciding who gets charged under UCMJ.

  9. 9
    Rommie says:

    This is what we elected him for, right? To be the decider-in-chief…with what we thought was a clue?

    Pretty soon there’s going to be demands that Obama put on the 5-star helmet and go clean house his own self. Sheesh.

  10. 10
    James Joyner says:

    In fairness to Fallows, he’s not arguing that Obama has to do it lest he look weak but rather because generals can’t be allowed to disrespect the chain of command.

    McChrystal has committed a criminal offense in violation of Article 88 of the UCMJ, after all.

    Does Obama “have” to fire McChrystal? Could he forgive this? No and yes were this happening in a vacuum. Given that there’s a pattern here, though, I think firing is the right course of action.

    More detailed thoughts: “McChrystal’s Loose Lips May Sink Afghan Ship.”

  11. 11
    Gromit says:

    Can you imagine going through life with all this artificial nonsense dictating your decision making process? I like those shoes, but do they make me look “weak?” I really would like some spicy mustard on my sandwich, but is it too “elitist?” My employee is a mouthy little shit who gets the job done, but do I have to fire him to show I am “tough” even if doing so hurts my business? Sure, I’d like to go to the opera, but will that make me look like a pussy?

    This pretty much sums up what it’s like to be a typical American male, don’t you think?

  12. 12
    stuckinred says:

    @John Cole: That’s why I said “He should be charged”.

  13. 13
    Cacti says:

    And if he fires McChrystal, then the narrative becomes “Obama tolerates no opposing views”.

    It’s all such an endless parade of bullshit.

  14. 14
    stuckinred says:

    @Cacti: Ding, so if it doesn’t matter what he does maybe he should just do what’s right.

  15. 15
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Is this something I should care about? My instinct tells me, “Hell no.”

  16. 16
    El Cid says:

    @Gromit: Pace Idiocracy, you talk like a fag.

  17. 17
    JZ says:

    No doubt Olbermann is working up some righteous indignation for whatever Obama decides.

  18. 18
    cleek says:

    @FlipYrWhig:
    ding ding ding.

    it’s more celebrity gossip. nothing meaningful will come from it.

  19. 19
    Redshirt says:

    I hope Greenwald comes along shortly to tell me why this shows Obama has failed us. AGAIN!

  20. 20
    MikeJ says:

    Rightwingers will still tell you that firing MacArthur made Truman look weak. There’s nothing Obama can do that will appease the critics, so go with results.

  21. 21
    srv says:

    Patraeus and Mullen should be doing more than mouthing – where there’s smoke, there is fire. You can’t have this shit going on at those levels in front of a Rolling Stone reporter and not expect the rank and file have taken note. It’s undermining the CinC and his idiotic ideas in Afghanistan at many levels.

    McChrsystal is an emo Patrick Bateman. He’s the kind of guy who can wax on about how awful we’re doing killing civilians and how it is undermining the mission, and in the next heartbeat drop some hellfires on camps in Pakistan.

  22. 22
    kay says:

    Most troubling of all is the shakiness of the Afghan government and its leader, President Hamid Karzai. In recent months, Mr. Karzai has grown increasingly erratic, even threatening to join the Taliban. In recent months, Mr. Karzai has alienated Mr. Biden, Mr. Eikenberry and Mr. Holbrooke. The one senior American who still enjoys a strong relationship Mr. Karzai is General McChrystal.

    If he keeps him, I hope this isn’t why he keeps him.

  23. 23
    Violet says:

    @FlipYrWhig:
    Bingo. I was in the car and listened to about five minutes of Limbaugh sounding as concern trollish as possible on the subject, and I though, it’s summer. No one cares about this. In a month’s time, no one will even remember this happened.

  24. 24
    RichJ says:

    It’s not the individual act of keeping McChrystal v. firing him that marks Obama as weak: it’s everything he’s done as President thus far. Instead of casting Joe Lieberman aside, as he should have done, he made sure he kept his sinecure in the Senate — even though Lieberman made it clear he would obstruct Obama’s entire platform. He’s consistently backed Democratic enemies in Congress (Blanche Lincoln comes to mind) when progressive challengers come to the fore. He seemed to think the Republicans would be his friends and misread their obstructionism for too long. He refused to articulate and push for any kind of coherent health care platform, leaving us, I think, with a shittier ACA than we could have gotten. I think keeping McChrystal would only emphasize what a weak President Obama is.

    He’s still better than Bush. I’ll never regret voting for him against McCain. But he’s hardly the liberal lion, ushering in a new progressive era, that a lot of us hoped he’d be. And that’s disappointing.

  25. 25
    Violet says:

    @JZ:

    No doubt Olbermann is working up some righteous indignation for whatever Obama decides.

    Speaking of Obermann, looks like he’s back at GOS. Insert massive eyeroll here.

  26. 26
    Zam says:

    I think it’s time for another beer summit.

    So what is the media gonna tack gate onto for this one?

  27. 27
    Josh says:

    In the immortal words of Voltaire: “the.”

    Sums up my feelings perfectly.

  28. 28
    Lolis says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Ha. Love it. Co-sign.

  29. 29
    taylormattd says:

    And the beat goes on . . .

    “Obama HAS to mention the phrase ‘climate change’ in his speech”

    “Obama HAS to address Florida and Michigan”

    “Obama HAS to select Hillary as VP”

    “Obama HAS to join Chris Dodd in this FISA filibuster (even though Dodd gave it up quickly)”

    “Obama HAS to ‘take control’ of the oil spill narrative”

    “Obama HAS to do something about Desiree Rogers”

    “Obama HAS to nominate somebody with an open and obvious liberal trackrecord to the Supreme Court”

    “Obama HAS to show more emotion about BP”

    “Obama HAS to immediately pursue immigration reform”

    “Obama HAS to fire Geithner”

    “Obama HAS to fire Summers”

    “Obama HAS to campaign more loudly for a public option”

    “Obama HAS to support Halter”

    “Obama HAS to recess appoint Dawn Johnson”

    “Obama HAS to scrap the health care bill and start over”

    “Obama HAS to raise taxes on the rich”

    “Obama HAS to stop reaching out to republican congresspeople”

    “Obama HAS to assure voters he is ready to be commander in chief”

    “Obama HAS to come clean about Rezko”

    “Obama HAS to show us the long-form birth certificate”

    “Obama HAS to move to the left in light of Scott Brown’s election”

    “Obama HAS to move to the right in light of Scott Brown’s election”

  30. 30
    Ailuridae says:

    John,

    I think you misunderstood Fallows point and I think James Joyner explained it pretty succinctly.

  31. 31
    Mnemosyne says:

    I can’t help thinking this was another maneuver in McChrystal’s campaign to get Obama to change his mind about starting pullouts from Afghanistan next year. If so, it was a pretty serious miscalculation.

    Let’s face it, the generals will always want to fight to the end no matter what. Always. That’s why we have civilian control of the military and not the other way around.

  32. 32
    Resident Firebagger says:

    Now the media makes it too tough for Obama to govern? That’s some first-class excuse making right there.

    And McCrystal is a piece of shit (see his role in the Tillman cover-up) who should have never gotten in this position in the first place.

  33. 33
    PeakVT says:

    It doesn’t make him “weak” should he do that, and firing McChrystal wouldn’t make him “strong.”

    Obama shouldn’t worry about the childish discussion in the media about such things. But he absolutely should not allow a culture of insubordination to take hold in the military. And to me it certainly seems that more than one person believed they could mock civilian officials. So, for that reason, he does “have” to do something, which is to show no tolerance for such behavior.

  34. 34
    taylormattd says:

    @Resident Firebagger: Oh, poor firebagger get wittle feewings hurt? How many whining piece of garbage comments did you write about how Hillary was treated by the press? Dumb hypocrite.

  35. 35
    Chinn Romney says:

    Actually President Obama does have to fire this guy if he hopes to retain any authority over the military. I’m ex-military myself and this shiite was not tolerated at my lowly level, never mind at these highly visible heights.

  36. 36
    Cacti says:

    @Resident Firebagger:

    If only Howard Dean was POTUS.

    He’d just scream “Yeeeeaaaargggggghhhh” from his bully pulpit and all would be right with the world.

  37. 37
    mr. whipple says:

    We all know that whatever Obama decides, it’ll have fail written all over it.

  38. 38
    Josh says:

    @Resident Firebagger:

    I believe that the point was that the media creates a narrative in which Obama is damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t, so why doesn’t he just go out in a blaze of glory and ride the white unicorn to the land of Doritos and blowjobs.

    I could just as easily call you a media apologist, but that doesn’t make any sense, does it?

  39. 39
    Zach says:

    There is one amazing thing that came out of this. Here is Rich Lowry, complaining about the hyperbolic writing in this piece:

    This is hilarious over-writing about McChrystal: “His slate-blue eyes have the unsettling ability to drill down when they lock on you. If you’ve f—-ed up or disappointed him, they can destroy your soul without the need for him to raise his voice.” Destroy your soul?

    Here’s Rich Lowry, author of the islamothriller Banquo’s Ghost:

    Spinner came directly from his neighborhood hoops games with two of his dawgs to keep him company. Spinner’s $200 Nike Air Force 1 Scarface Edition basketbal shoes were melting off his feet. One of his friends was wearing the Adidas Intelligent Basketbal Shoe that retailed for $500. These weren’t looking so hot either, and all three boys were wondering loudly [ed: this is impossible] about where to get satisfaction in the matter of
    defective merchandise.

  40. 40
    Nemo_N says:

    What if a girl wants to read Twilight? Must she ponder whether or not it will make her look stupid/illiterate/whatever-they-call-twilight-fans-these-days?

  41. 41
    Jager says:

    If I were in Obama’s shoes, I’d march McCrystal out into the Rose Garden, along with the Joint Chiefs, Gates and the entire crew from the Pentagon and then with Petraeus by my side, I’d order Mullens to rip off McCrystal’s stars, ribbons and stomp his fucking hat, reduce him to Captain (for retirement purposes) and tell him he had 24 hours to get his family out of military housing. After it was over, I would whisper to Petraeus, “Don’t even think about fucking with me David, because you’re next on my list!” And I would have Pat Tillman’s entire family witness the event!

  42. 42
    Chyron HR says:

    @mr. whipple:

    We all know that whatever Obama decides, it’ll have fail murderous megalomanical Chicago-style SociaIist shakedown thug written all over it.

    Fix’t.

  43. 43
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Zam:

    So what is the media gonna tack gate onto for this one?

    I guess, depending on the level of involvement of the SecDef, it could be Gatesgate. Oh wait, we had that last summer with Henry Louis Gates, didn’t we?

    I move we call this whole thing McKristallnacht.

  44. 44
    Tim Ellis says:

    You know what makes Obama strong? Ignoring all this crap from the media.

    Heck, if he ignores them long enough, maybe it’ll drive them crazy and they’ll, you know, do some investigating or something instead.

    (I’m not holding my breath)

  45. 45
    Slowbama says:

    I think the larger picture here is how close the officer class is to full-on open insurrection. The RS writer has alluded to much worse stuff being said off the record.

  46. 46
    Violet says:

    @Zach:
    Rich Lowry? Starbursts Rich Lowry? Srsly?

  47. 47
    Cacti says:

    @RichJ:

    But he’s hardly the liberal lion, ushering in a new progressive era, that a lot of us hoped he’d be. And that’s disappointing

    Damn that Obama for not delivering the socialist revolution he never promised.

  48. 48
    J Fallows says:

    Honored to be mentioned here, and appreciate the attention; but as a few of your commenters have mentioned, I didn’t say anything whatsoever about Obama needing to show his “strength” by firing McChrystal. Here are two relevant parts of the argument:

    It’s about civilian control of the military, respect for the chain of command, and the concepts of disrespect and insubordination. Every officer and enlisted person in every military branch is well schooled in what those concepts mean.
    If the facts are as they appear — McChrystal and his associates freely mocking their commander in chief and his possible successor (ie, Biden) and the relevant State Department officials (Holbrooke and Eikenberry) — with no contention that the quotes were invented or misconstrued, then Obama owes it to past and future presidents to draw the line and say: this is not tolerable. You must go.

    And

    The first step is for the civilian Commander in Chief to act in accordance with Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution and demonstrate that there are consequences for showing open disrespect for the chain of command. And, yes, I would say the same thing in opposite political circumstances — if, for instance, a commander of Iraq operations had been quoted openly mocking George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Resign in protest: yes, a course of honor. But protest and mock while in uniform, no.

    Just for the record: I understand the exasperation with the “Obama has to show his political strength” narrative. But that is not at all what I wrote, or is on my mind. (I take for granted that the right will attack him with equal ferocity but opposite arguments either way.) You can read it for yourself: http://www.theatlantic.com/pol.....tal/58509/

    J Fallows

  49. 49
    Bill Section 147 says:

    This whole thing reminds me of the scene from Fast Times at Ridgemont High when Brad says, “Mister, if you don’t shut up, I’m gonna kick 100% of your ass,” to the rude customer. The Assistant Manager of the Carl’s Jr., Dennis Taylor, fires him on the spot.

  50. 50
    Violet says:

    @Slowbama:

    I think the larger picture here is how close the officer class is to full-on open insurrection. The RS writer has alluded to much worse stuff being said off the record.

    Wasn’t someone in the punditocracy a few months ago hinting about, or even suggesting, a full scale mutiny to take out Obama?

  51. 51
    jeffreyw says:

    Remember the line: “Real men don’t eat quiche?” Bullshit. Real men eat whatever they want.

  52. 52
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Jager:

    Two words:

    Awe.
    Some.

  53. 53
    lamh31 says:

    Tillman mother sought to warn Obama of McChrystal

    The mother of the slain football player and Army Ranger Pat Tillman sought to warn President Obama against making General Stanley McChrystal his commander in Afghanistan.

    Mary Tillman said in an unpublished interview this year that she wrote to Obama and called Senators and members of Congress seeking to block McChrystal’s appointment when she learned that he was under consideration for the post.
    She called the lack of deliberation leading to his appointment “disgusting” in the interview, given before today’s Rolling Stone article spurred intense tension between the general and the White House.

    McChrystal has been accused of involvement in covering up of the fact that Tillman had been shot by his own comrades, having approved a citation for a posthumous medal that attributed his death to “enemy fire,” though the general also penned a memo warning the White House against describing the circumstance of Tillman’s death for fear of future embarrassment.
    An official investigation blamed McChrystal for “inaccurate and misleading assertions” in the formal recommendation of Tillman for a Silver Star.

    Mary Tillman said she emailed Obama a short letter saying that McChrystal was not what he seemed.
    She received no response to the letter and little response to her contacts with members of Congress, she said in the interview, though Senator John McCain called her to seek suggestion for questions to ask at a hearing with McChrystal. Tillman declined to provide them because she’d read that McCain had already decided to back McChrystal.

  54. 54
    david mizner says:

    Of course.

    He’s perfectly entitled to get rolled yet again by his generals and to make a mockery of the notion that we have civilian control of the military.

    Everybody, even the president, has the right to debase himself. This is the United States of American, a semi-free nation.

  55. 55
    demo woman says:

    McChrystal is preparing his letter of resignation and it will be accepted. Although his plan is not working, he will run for office saying if only they would have listened to me.
    Personally I don’t care who he disses but he is responsible for the troops in Afghanistan. How did his words affect the troops?

  56. 56
    Cacti says:

    @lamh31:

    I may be alone here, but I’m quite comfortable with Obama ignoring the recommendations of the Tillman family on who should have command of operations in Afghanistan.

  57. 57
    catclub says:

    @Gromit:
    Only if you let others determine your behavior.

  58. 58
    kay says:

    @Slowbama:

    Well, then, the “officer class” need to get on with that “full scale” insurrection, and stop hinting at it.
    From the outside looking in, it seems as if Obama spends more time stroking huge egos and placating prima donnas than he does governing.
    These people need to grow up. They may not like it, and any one of them would CLEARLY be better at this job, but he’s the President. They can always resign in protest, and air their grievances.
    Biden took a principled position in the administration debate opposite this guy, and Biden actually lost that debate. You don’t hear Biden trashing the general. Funny, that.

  59. 59
    Zifnab says:

    @Nemo_N: I’d be more worried what it does to one’s taste in men.

    “Yeah, sure. He’s got a six figure job, eight-pack abs, and spends his weekends feeding stray baby kittens from a formula he created himself… but will he hang from my ceiling and stare at me as I sleep while he glitters so brightly that he’s visible from space?”

    Also, what the hell ever happened to doing your god damn job? It’s the “fired for disrespecting mah authouatah” that got us into Iraq to begin with. If McChrystal can’t perform his mission, because he’s more obsessed with “winning” than “leaving” then yank him. If he’s doing a fantastic job and he’s just got a foul mouth, why are we so quick to show him the door.

    From the article, it sounds like McChrystal is having trouble doing his god damn job. You shouldn’t be firing him for shooting his mouth off, you should be thanking him. If Obama wants to show McChrystal the door, he should be doing it because McChrystal isn’t getting the mission accomplished.

  60. 60
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    Back in the Pentagon on the Joint Staff in the 90s, I worked with a lot of officers that would be considered McChrystal’s peers. Sure, most of them had utter contempt for Clinton but they didn’t share those thoughts while in uniform, on the job and especially not to a FUCKING REPORTER!

    JeesusHkeeristonabike, what a stoopid fuck. There are some things you simply don’t do as the UCMJ makes pointedly clear.

    He needs to be fired. Period. I can guarandamntee you that when Cheney was my nominal boss back when he was SecDef under George I, if any flag rank officer anywhere had said these kinds of things on the record to a reporter, said officer would have been keel hauled.

    Truman relieved MacArthur for good reason. Obama’s been a stickler for presidential precedent and authority just like every occupant of the Oval Office has been so I’m guessing Stan the Man is being invited back to be told to retire.

  61. 61
    tim says:

    John, isn’t what you are talking about here simply a more extreme form of what we all deal with to one extent or another within our own lives in society each and every day?

    We all are always guaging our fellow society members’ responses to our actions, and deciding what to do about it if anything at all.

    Hell, Obama wanted this job, and this bullshit is part of it.

    All this said, does it surprise anyone that top military leaders are arrogant, faux-macho pricks who generally have a hard time operating outside the pretend world within a world of the military industrial daddy complex?

  62. 62
    Citizen Alan says:

    @Cacti:

    Yeah, we sure dodged that bullet when Dean get chased out of the race over yelling too loud at a campaign rally so that it would clear the field for Kerry to beat Bush. Oh wait …

  63. 63
    catclub says:

    @RichJ:
    Idiot. Kick Lieberman and Lincoln to the curb and there is no ACA at all. How is that better than what he got?

  64. 64
    ChrisWWW says:

    Saying that he “has” to do X is just a bit of rhetorical flair, shorthand for saying “I think he should do X.”

  65. 65
    Josh says:

    @Cacti:

    I’m fairly comfortable with Obama ignoring the Tillman family.

    I’m also fairly comfortable with him ignoring all of the raving idiots in the country, too.

  66. 66
    Flugelhorn says:

    @RichJ:

    He’s still better than Bush. I’ll never regret voting for him against McCain. But he’s hardly the liberal lion, ushering in a new progressive era…

    The Presidency is not a dictatorship. In a democracy, you need votes to get your agenda passed. Thankfully, the large majority of Americans want nothing to do with your Liberal-Progressive agenda.

    You need to give Obama more credit. If it were within Obama’s power, we would all be in progressive heaven online somewhere, queued up for our daily food ration of soilent green and waxing
    nostalgic about the times when people had jobs.

  67. 67
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @Slowbama:

    I think the larger picture here is how close the officer class is to full-on open insurrection. The RS writer has alluded to much worse stuff being said off the record.

    Exactly. I’m midway through reading the first page of the article, but this stood out to me as being a pretty illustrative passage of the greater dynamics at work:

    The general prides himself on being sharper and ballsier than anyone else, but his brashness comes with a price: Although McChrystal has been in charge of the war for only a year, in that short time he has managed to piss off almost everyone with a stake in the conflict. Last fall, during the question-and-answer session following a speech he gave in London, McChrystal dismissed the counterterrorism strategy being advocated by Vice President Joe Biden as “shortsighted,” saying it would lead to a state of “Chaos-istan.” The remarks earned him a smackdown from the president himself, who summoned the general to a terse private meeting aboard Air Force One. The message to McChrystal seemed clear: Shut the fuck up, and keep a lower profile.

    Now, that was a year ago and as we all know, Gen. McChrystal has done a pretty poor job of shutting the fuck up, in addition to keeping a low profile.

    And I have to disagree with the people dismissing this as the equivalent of celebrity gossip or not being a major news story. This is going to be quite fascinating to watch how it all unfolds over the next few days, and subsequently, the next few months as the strategy in Afghanistan either remains the same or begins the arduous process of changing.

  68. 68
    MikeJ says:

    @Jager:

    If I were in Obama’s shoes, I’d march McCrystal out into the Rose Garden…

    In large part, this is why you, or someone like you, isn’t in Obama’s shoes and he is.

    I’m so fucking sick of drama queens. Just because McChrystal acts like one doesn’t mean everybody around him has to.

  69. 69
    Frank Chow says:

    @JohnCole Your face is fired.

  70. 70
    The Moar You Know says:

    But he’s hardly the liberal lion, ushering in a new progressive era, that a lot of us hoped he’d be.

    @RichJ: If I live to be a thousand years old, I will never understand where the idea of Obama being any sort of “liberal lion” or “progressive” originated from. He was upfront about his beliefs and views throughout the campaign, and the reason I voted for him was precisely because he was not a pie-in-the-sky WATB progressive, but a practical, somewhat conservative man whose primary interest was good government.

    You folks who were looking to Obama to be the Progressive Jesus Christ fooled yourselves, and only yourselves. No wonder you’re so pissed off.

  71. 71
    david mizner says:

    This is the funniest sentence of this idiotic post:

    “If Obama decides the offense is forgivable and that he wants McChrystal to continue his job until the timeline is ended next year, that is well within his rights.”

    Rights? Of course it’s within his rights. Irrelevant.

    Forgivable? Who cares if it’s forgivable? Also irrelevant.

  72. 72
    Cacti says:

    @Citizen Alan:

    Yeah, it was the Scream that got him kicked out. Not that he had no support outside of the netroots.

    And he would have pursued a hard left presidential agenda, despite his thoroughly centrist record as Vermont Governor.

    Must be nice to live in a fantasy.

  73. 73
    TuiMel says:

    @PeakVT:
    My first reaction is to agree with this, and I disagree with those who think this is merely some sort of celebrity gossip that doesn’t merit any real consideration. McChrystal’s comments are being characterized as “mockery,” which I feel is different than “criticism.” Also, I think that this is not McChrystal’s first foray into sandbagging his CinC via the press. History has shown that President’s are not well served by subordinates who practice insubordination. Again, I need to read the article for myself to see if the current press characterizations of the General’s comments are true. If they are, I think he was reckless in his judgement, and I am not a huge fan of reckless leaders. Also, some of the attributed comments seem to indicate that McChrystal is frustrated and not dealing with it well, and yes, there is always his sorry record in the Pat Tillman cover-up. At this point, it seems that he deserves to be toast.

  74. 74
    cyd says:

    McChrystal is preparing his letter of resignation and it will be accepted. Although his plan is not working, he will run for office saying if only they would have listened to me.

    In the unlikely event of this transpiring, the Obama-as-Lincoln analogy will become even creepier.

  75. 75
    Taterstick says:

    @demo woman: “Personally I don’t care who he disses but he is responsible for the troops in Afghanistan. How did his words affect the troops?”

    Based on those I know who are over there, and having been in a similar position many years ago, I would suspect they don’t give a flying fuck about McChrystal. All they want is to get home, and whoever can get them there the fastest is okay with them.

  76. 76
    Josh says:

    @Citizen Alan:

    I supported Dean, but I think Cacti has a point: these people just want a lot of screaming and yelling with as much incoherent rage as possible. They think that it gets shit done, I guess.

    Although, in my own experience, calm and cooperative gets more shit done.

    If I were Obama I’d march McChrystal right into the rose garden to make an apology and offer a very well-rehearsed and utterly unconvincing speech as to why we should leave Afghanistan. Then I would have him over for tea and scones, and we’d talk about baseball.

  77. 77
    MikeJ says:

    I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that if John McCain thought he’d been shown the slightest disrespect he’d have the guy’s head on a pike. Even if it meant 100,000 American soldiers would die, even if it shot the unemployment rate to 65%, even if the Dow dropped to 72. McCain would tolerate no disrespect, even if it meant destroying the entire world.

    Which is why I’m glad there are grown ups in charge now.

  78. 78
    MTiffany says:

    Can you imagine going through life with all this artificial nonsense dictating your decision making process?

    Like not being able to marry my boyfriend? No. Not at all.

  79. 79
    AxelFoley says:

    @Jude:

    Sure, I’d like to go to the opera, but will that make me look like a pussy?

    Yep.
    Pussy.

    LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

  80. 80
    Napoleon says:

    “WaPo opinioner Jackson Diehl says McChrystal shouldn’t be apologizing for disrespecting President Obama but that President Obama should be apologizing for disrespecting McChrystal.”

    http://www.talkingpointsmemo.c.....?ref=fpblg

  81. 81
    cleek says:

    @Flugelhorn:

    You need to give Obama more credit. If it were within Obama’s power, we would all be in progressive heaven online somewhere, queued up for our daily food ration of soilent [sic] green and waxing nostalgic about the times when people had jobs.

    but at least we’d have sent you and the rest of the wingnuts to the dog food factory in the Great Purge. an overabundance of Chuck Wagon would be a small price to pay to be permanently rid of people who are too fucking stupid to recognize that their fantasy freakshow world bears no resemblance at all to reality.

    look over there, a Death Panel! run!

  82. 82
    Citizen Alan says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    You folks who were looking to Obama to be the Progressive Jesus Christ fooled yourselves, and only yourselves. No wonder you’re so pissed off.

    I never thought he was a progressive. I just thought he would bring back respect for the rule of law and an end to torture and a warm admiration for the police state. So yeah, I guess was fooling myself, and I am pissed off.

  83. 83
    JGabriel says:

    GOP House Whip Eric Cantor jumps into the fray:

    Obviously a General and his top brass don’t make statements like these without being frustrated, so I hope that the President’s meeting with General McChrystal will include a frank discussion about what is happening on the ground, and whether the resources and the plan are there to defeat terrorists and accomplish our mission in Afghanistan.

    Shorter Cantor: Obama better apologize to McChrystal and coddle his manly wants.

    .

  84. 84
    TuiMel says:

    @Midnight Marauder:

    nd I have to disagree with the people dismissing this as the equivalent of celebrity gossip or not being a major news story. This is going to be quite fascinating to watch how it all unfolds over the next few days, and subsequently, the next few months as the strategy in Afghanistan either remains the same or begins the arduous process of changing.

    I agree.

  85. 85
    Cacti says:

    Just for a little historical perspective…

    When McArthur was finally relieved of his command, he was trying to single-handedly provoke a total war with China, in violation of direct orders from the CIC to the contrary.

    It wasn’t just because he said a few obnoxious things to the press.

  86. 86
    Josh says:

    @david mizner:

    The post itself I don’t consider idiotic. It’s an obvious point, sure, but not idiotic.

    Then again, the obvious really isn’t all that obvious with all of the noise-generating idiots constantly pontificating on various asininities while wanking off to Palin’s DDs.

  87. 87
    david mizner says:

    Atrios flags the most important passage:

    Even those closest to McChrystal know that the rising anti-war sentiment at home doesn’t begin to reflect how deeply fucked up things are in Afghanistan. “If Americans pulled back and started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular,”
    a senior adviser to McChrystal says.

    And that’s what this is about, of course, McTorturer trying not to be the answer to the question, Who lost Afghanistan?

  88. 88

    Well, saying that the “real enemy” is “the wimps in the White House” is insubordination, and if you allow such a thing to occur, you can’t be a strong leader for the military.

    Obama’s reaction *can’t* be weak – and if it’s not firing McChrystal, it’d better be something else that’s so big that no one ever thinks about saying something like that ever again (unless they are willing to throw away their career).

  89. 89
    JGabriel says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    I move we call this whole thing McKristallnacht.

    Seconded.

    .

  90. 90
    Violet says:

    @Midnight Marauder:

    And I have to disagree with the people dismissing this as the equivalent of celebrity gossip or not being a major news story. This is going to be quite fascinating to watch how it all unfolds over the next few days, and subsequently, the next few months as the strategy in Afghanistan either remains the same or begins the arduous process of changing.

    It’s a major news story, but the average person isn’t going to pay a lot of attention to it. More people know who Lady Gaga is than McChrystal. And more people will know that Jake the Bachelor and his TV show girlfriend just broke up than will ever know what transpires with this situation.

  91. 91
  92. 92
    cleek says:

    @Midnight Marauder:

    This is going to be quite fascinating to watch how it all unfolds over the next few days,

    meh. “fascinating” is in the eye of the beholder.

    and subsequently, the next few months as the strategy in Afghanistan either remains the same or begins the arduous process of changing.

    it won’t change. Obama’s not ballsy enough to pull the plug. at best, he’ll rotate the guys in charge of deciding where the bombs falls. BFD.

    a few more F.U.s and then we’ll be able to tell if our plan is working or if we need to change tactics. maybe a surge will do the trick. maybe Afghanistanization. maybe we should paint some schools.

  93. 93
    Cure7802 says:

    @Josh:

    This. One of the reasons I voted for him was because he doesn’t seem to listen to raving idiots.

  94. 94
    Mnemosyne says:

    Sounds like they’re letting McChrystal sweat it out on that long flight from Afghanistan:

    The official says the general has been given no indication that he’ll be fired – but no assurance he won’t be.

    (Edited for clarity)

  95. 95
    Corner Stone says:

    @Midnight Marauder:

    This is going to be quite fascinating to watch how it all unfolds over the next few days, and subsequently, the next few months as the strategy in Afghanistan either remains the same or begins the arduous process of changing.

    The next six months in Afghanistan are critical, so I hope we know before then.

  96. 96
    Mnemosyne says:

    @cleek:

    it won’t change. Obama’s not ballsy enough to pull the plug. at best, he’ll rotate the guys in charge of deciding where the bombs falls. BFD.

    The current, public plan is to start troop withdrawals next year. See my link above.

    So your argument is that the administration is going to reverse what they’ve already publicly announced they’re going to do?

  97. 97
    Josh says:

    @Hunter Gathers:

    And thus, the great War of Idiots has begun. It pits the executive against the judicial, and the judicial against common sense!

    And as a side bonus, it pits congress against reality and the country!

    It’s the thrilla in Vanilla.

  98. 98
    SpotWeld says:

    He can’t win either way.
    Should Obama decide to fire any General at anypoint (for the reasons given here, or better ones) the media chatter will sunndenly swing over to the “..fired for not agreeing with the party line. Obama is weak because he cannot tolerate dissent.” Blah blah blah.

  99. 99
    Citizen Alan says:

    @Cacti:

    Yeah, it was the Scream that got him kicked out. Not that he had no support outside of the netroots.

    Over-the-top coverage of the scream by a MSM eager to paint him as a crazy extremist was certainly a factor in Dean deciding to drop out after the second primary and before we even got to Super Tuesday. From Wikipedia: The scream scene was shown approximately 633 times by cable and broadcast news networks in just four days following the incident, a number that does not include talk shows and local news broadcasts.

    And he would have pursued a hard left presidential agenda, despite his thoroughly centrist record as Vermont Governor.

    I was just looking for a moderate Democrat who favored strong health care reform and who recognized that the Iraq war was the greatest foreign policy mistake in American history and who wasn’t afraid to end it as quickly as possible. The rest of the party decided to go with a war vet who looked good standing in front of a flag. That worked out splendidly as I recall.

    Must be nice to live in a fantasy.

    This is reality: We are engaged in a serious debate as to whether President Obama should or should not abandon even the slightest pretense that the generals who serve under him are required to show even minimal deference or respect to a Democratic Commander-in-Chief. Frankly, I’d rather be living in a fantasy than the nightmare of the last decade any day.

  100. 100
    MikeJ says:

    Feldman asked a government lawyer why the Interior Department decided to suspend deepwater drilling after the rig explosion when it didn’t bar oil tankers from Alaskan waters after the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 or take similar actions in the wake of other industrial accidents.

    Because insane people were running the country then?

  101. 101
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @cleek:

    meh. “fascinating” is in the eye of the beholder.

    Which is why I find it amusing that people are already so dismissive of a set of events that have yet to even fucking play out. That’s the entire point of it being “fascinating.”

    @Violet:

    It’s a major news story, but the average person isn’t going to pay a lot of attention to it. More people know who Lady Gaga is than McChrystal. And more people will know that Jake the Bachelor and his TV show girlfriend just broke up than will ever know what transpires with this situation.

    Right now, sure. But this is a story that has the potential to reshape a plethora of narratives surrounding the war effort as its ramifications play out. For the people who keep underselling this, check out this passage from the second page of the article. This is what we are fundamentally talking about here:

    In the end, however, McChrystal got almost exactly what he wanted. On December 1st, in a speech at West Point, the president laid out all the reasons why fighting the war in Afghanistan is a bad idea: It’s expensive; we’re in an economic crisis; a decade-long commitment would sap American power; Al Qaeda has shifted its base of operations to Pakistan. Then, without ever using the words “victory” or “win,” Obama announced that he would send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, almost as many as McChrystal had requested. The president had thrown his weight, however hesitantly, behind the counterinsurgency crowd.
    __
    Today, as McChrystal gears up for an offensive in southern Afghanistan, the prospects for any kind of success look bleak. In June, the death toll for U.S. troops passed 1,000, and the number of IEDs has doubled. Spending hundreds of billions of dollars on the fifth-poorest country on earth has failed to win over the civilian population, whose attitude toward U.S. troops ranges from intensely wary to openly hostile. The biggest military operation of the year – a ferocious offensive that began in February to retake the southern town of Marja – continues to drag on, prompting McChrystal himself to refer to it as a “bleeding ulcer.” In June, Afghanistan officially outpaced Vietnam as the longest war in American history – and Obama has quietly begun to back away from the deadline he set for withdrawing U.S. troops in July of next year. The president finds himself stuck in something even more insane than a quagmire: a quagmire he knowingly walked into, even though it’s precisely the kind of gigantic, mind-numbing, multigenerational nation-building project he explicitly said he didn’t want.
    __
    Even those who support McChrystal and his strategy of counterinsurgency know that whatever the general manages to accomplish in Afghanistan, it’s going to look more like Vietnam than Desert Storm. “It’s not going to look like a win, smell like a win or taste like a win,” says Maj. Gen. Bill Mayville, who serves as chief of operations for McChrystal. “This is going to end in an argument.”

    Again, there are a lot of fascinating dynamics at work here in this equation and I’m intrigued to see how they all play out. But I really can’t understand the flippant dismissal so many people have about this story.

  102. 102
    taylormattd says:

    @david mizner: If only St. Edwards would have won, huh Mizner?

    Oh, that peacenik philanderer:

    The time has come for decisive action. With our allies, we must do whatever is necessary to guard against the threat posed by an Iraq armed with weapons of mass destruction and under the thumb of Saddam Hussein

    The terrorist threat against America is all too clear. Thousands of terrorist operatives around the world would pay anything to get their hands on Saddam’s arsenal, and there is every reason to believe that Saddam would turn his weapons over to these terrorists. No one can doubt that if the terrorists of September 11 had had weapons of mass destruction, they would have used them. On September 12, 2002, we can hardly ignore the terrorist threat and the serious danger that Saddam would allow his arsenal to be used in aid of terror.

    Seeing day after day, week after week, briefings on Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction and his plans on using those weapons. He cannot be allowed to have nuclear weapons.

    Love the videos in this diary, especially the one where St. Edwards is pushing the bullshit Saddam – 9/11 link: http://www.dailykos.com/storyo.....414/388098

  103. 103
    TuiMel says:

    He can’t win either way.

    So perhaps he should view that as giving him a wide open space to do what he thinks is right.

  104. 104
    cleek says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    So your argument is that the administration is going to reverse what they’ve already publicly announced they’re going to do?

    i know it would be the first time they’ve ever done anything like that. but, yeah.

    i mean, it’s almost inconceivable that they could find a way to turn:

    “We clearly understand that in July of 2011, we begin to draw down our forces,” Gates said. “The pace with which we draw down and how many we draw down is going to be conditions-based.”

    …into anything but a complete and total withdrawal, in the mere 13 months they have left. but i think they’ll give it a good try.

  105. 105
    catclub says:

    @JGabriel:
    Only agree if we get to punch Bill Kristol in the neck, as well.

  106. 106
    Josh says:

    @Midnight Marauder:

    I’m not dismissive. I found out yesterday that the only thing my mind has been able to run on recently is sarcasm and my acerbic wit.

    Reality need not apply.

  107. 107
    Capri says:

    It’s interesting to me that it was published in Rolling Stone. Why are they the only periodical capable of publishing long, complex articles?

  108. 108
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @Jager:

    I’d prefer following due process and following the law when charging someone with violating the UCMJ, not tough guy nonsense out of a third world autocracy.

  109. 109
    JimF says:

    If Sec. Gates is as upset as he sounds, McChrystal will not be allowed to retire. Upon arrival in D.C. he gets arrested and tried under article 88.

  110. 110
    KG says:

    This, this is why the only news I read anymore comes from ESPN. Other than here, Sullivan’s place, and occasionally LGF, I just can’t deal with the stupid anymore.

    Political theater has replaced politics and actual policy… governing, that oh so quaint notion, left us long ago. It is days like this that I start thinking of how I could run off to some tropical island that has access to good beer, Cuban cigars, maybe some ganja, satellite TV for sports, and beautiful women…

  111. 111
    Josh says:

    @Capri:

    For the same reason the Rolling Stones were the only band capable of moving me emotionally during my tumultuous teen years.

    I can tell if that’s sarcasm or bitter honesty.

    Eh.

  112. 112
    Comrade Dread says:

    @Nemo_N: I believe the accepted term now is Twitards. But that might only apply to those who are already camped out now for the upcoming film.

    @El Cid: And you’re shit’s all retarded.

  113. 113
    cleek says:

    @Midnight Marauder:

    Again, there are a lot of fascinating dynamics at work here in this equation and I’m intrigued to see how they all play out. But I really can’t understand the flippant dismissal so many people have about this story.

    again, “fascinating” is subjective. if it fascinates you, congrats. that doesn’t mean it fascinates me. i think it’s a whole lotta nothin. changing the general in charge of Afghanistan isn’t going to change anything. the killing will continue apace.

  114. 114
    Henry Bayer says:

    George Orwell in his 1936 essay “Shooting an elephant” is a good metaphor for politicians trapped in this no-win situation.

    “…he feels surrendered to all these natives around him. Not willing to look like an idiot to them, he does what he thinks they want and kills the elephant” (short version via wikipedia)

  115. 115
    Rock says:

    @Cacti: I think “endless parade of bullshit” should be a new tag. It sums up the media in this country and the stupidity that it abets very nicely.

  116. 116
    catclub says:

    @MikeJ:
    Agreed.

    The secretary of Interior at that time was Manuel Lujan.
    I don’t think he was known for keeping a boot on the neck of the oil business.

    From Wikipedia:
    As the chairman of a White House task force studying offshore oil drilling, he expressed his strong support for drilling off the California coast in a speech to western governors. Nineteen members of the California congressional delegation—all Democrats—and Republican Governor Pete Wilson called for Lujan to resign from the study group because he was prejudiced to one point of view but Lujan declined to step down from the post.

    As the administration point man on offshore drilling, he opposed Democratic efforts to halt the practice after the Exxon Valdez spill in April 1989.

  117. 117
    Josh says:

    @Comrade Dread:

    Twitards? I thought that applied to Twitter. Or are those twats? I don’t know anymore. It’s so hard to keep up with all of the net colloquialisms these days.

    I just call Twilight fanatics stupid. And when I do, people usually nod their heads in solemn agreement. And then we have cake–but this cake isn’t a lie.

    Now I’m just being ridiculous.

  118. 118
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    John Cole Johnson is right!

  119. 119
    Josh says:

    @Henry Bayer:

    Shooting and Elephant was a short story. And that distinction matters because a high school English teacher told me it did.

    And I believe everything that I breath, regardless of the folksy wisdom of Beck.

  120. 120
    someguy says:

    The important takeaway from this is that if the right wingers demand that McCrystal be fired, they are wrong because Obama doesn’t have to do what he doesn’t want to do; and, if they demand that he not be fired, they are wrong for the same reason.

    So it’s a win win for us. And, of course, for McCain.

  121. 121
    twiffer says:

    the sad thing is, there are people who go through life that way. without media involvement.

  122. 122
    Cacti says:

    @Citizen Alan:

    Media coverage of the Scream was subsequent to him getting his clock cleaned in the Iowa Caucus.

    Howard Dean’s supporters were more noisy than numerous and the reality played out when the votes started being cast.

    But don’t let facts get in the way of the “media conspiracy” myth. It’s a much more satisfying balm than just admitting your guy lost on his own merits.

  123. 123
    Tsulagi says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Sounds like they’re letting McChrystal sweat it out on that long flight from Afghanistan. The official says the general has been given no indication that he’ll be fired – but no assurance he won’t be.

    Even if he’s flying in a cushy C-40B, it’s going to be a long flight from Bagram to Andrews. No doubt they’re just giving the general much needed personal reflection time on his action.

  124. 124
    cleek says:

    @Tsulagi:

    Even if he’s flying in a cushy C-40B, it’s going to be a long flight from Bagram to Andrews.

    they could have him in DC by dinnertime, if they put him on an SR71

  125. 125
    Davis X. Machina says:

    McChrystal is preparing his letter of resignation and it will be accepted. Although his plan is not working, he will run for office saying if only they would have listened to me.

    Worked a treat for President MacArthur…

  126. 126
    Kryptik says:

    @Hunter Gathers:

    I….buh…whuh….

    Why?! What was the legal justification?

  127. 127
    4tehlulz says:

    @cleek: They could have, but CLINTON killed the program.

  128. 128
    cleek says:

    @4tehlulz:
    the planes are still around, though!

    (no idea how long it would take to get one operational – weeks, months, years? )

  129. 129
    sparky says:

    i was struck by this:

    But Obama doesn’t have to do anything, and I hate how this constant din in the media manages to artificially place limits on the President’s ability to govern.

    now, admittedly, some (most? all?) of this din is presumably opposition/smear/tricks/disingenuous or whatever, but i was under the misguided notion that while we live under an oligarchy that prefers to redirect tax dollars to the top 5% and believes a perfect oligarchy is best served by permanent warfare and believes it has a right to read your mail and demand your papers, it was still more or less ok for the yokels (and assorted tools of the oligarchy) to shoot off their mouths about any acceptable topic. or did i miss the memo saying public discourse was retired because it was too messy or not civil or bipartisan enough?

  130. 130
  131. 131
    mnpundit says:

    Well it will simply mean civilian control of the military degrades and Democrats are once again tarred as the party of wimps bolstering GOP credentials on National Security.

    But leave that aside.

    A lot of even Obama supporters think the policy in Afghanistan is failing so this mouthy little shit isn’t getting the job done. The real question is what will Obama do about the policy?

  132. 132
    Rick Taylor says:

    As usual, Obama gets to make excruciatingly difficult decision on his watch. I can see arguments on both sides, and I could respect either decision. I’m just glad I’m not the one who has to make the call.
    __
    One thing this fellow points out is that the general understands at least to some degree that politics are more important than body counts in determining progress. Some of the complaints about him in the Rolling Stones piece are that he’s using rules of engagement that are overly restrictive, in the pursuit of avoiding Afghanistan civilian casualties. That seems to me to be the right direction to be erring in.
    __
    So it seems to me Obama has three choices:
    __
    1. Fire General McChrystal, and find another general to implement his plans. Given the transition time, we might end up spending more time in Afghanistan, because of his failure.
    __
    2. Fire General McChrystal and pull out. Give up the strategy because of the General’s failure.
    __
    3. Rake McChrystal over the coals, but in the end accept his apology and continue on, despite the damage.
    __
    Pick your poison. I’m just glad it’s not my decision.

  133. 133
    Bill H says:

    @Flugelhorn:

    In a democracy, you need votes to get your agenda passed.

    Yeah, but you don’t needs votes to fucking try.
    And you get damned little done when you don’t fucking try.

  134. 134
    Hunter Gathers says:

    @Kryptik: The ‘legal’ justification was probably the campaign donations that the judge received from the oil companies.

  135. 135
    demimondian says:

    @LongHairedWeirdo: This.

    Obama does have to respond harshly to this insubordination; to permit it to continue would undermine military discipline. That, however, does not mean he has to fire McChrystal.

    For instance, refusing to accept his resignation and ordering him to ferret out the malcontents in his staff and bring them all to book under Article 88 under the watchful eyes of the Army CoS might be message enough. It would leave him with two absolutely unacceptable alternatives: follow the orders and destroy those around him, which would generate unending enmity towards him, or simply earning the 88 (and subsequent dishonorable discharge) himself. Buh-bye political career. Buh-bye military career.

    Now, Obama’s not that cruel, so he won’t do that, but even though Obama must do something, there’s no one path he must follow. He’s has the initiative and the power.

  136. 136
    JGabriel says:

    Michael Hastings @ Rolling Stone:

    “It was a 10-minute photo op,” says an adviser to McChrystal. “Obama clearly didn’t know anything about him, who he was. Here’s the guy who’s going to run his fucking war, but he didn’t seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed.”

    Sounds like the “adviser” has forgotten who The Boss actually is.

    Anyone else reminded of Gingrich whining about sitting in the back of the plane instead of up in front with Clinton?

    .

  137. 137
    GregB says:

    If he gets shitcanned how soon before General McChrystal becomes the spokesman for the Oath Keepers?

  138. 138
    GregB says:

    If he gets shitcanned how soon before General McChrystal becomes the spokesman for the Oath Keepers?

  139. 139
    LikeableInMyOwnWay says:

    @J Fallows:

    I’m on a thread with James Fallows?

    Seriously, I have goosebumps. You are the best of the best, sir.

  140. 140
    slag says:

    Personally, I think McChrystal is bucking for a Section 8. I’m just sure the next picture I see will be of him wearing one of Michelle Obama’s dresses. (Although I bet Michelle has better arms.)

    Seriously, am I supposed to care about this? Yeah…I guess I am. Oh well…another day, another failure at being a decent citizen.

  141. 141
    Mnemosyne says:

    @cleek:

    i mean, it’s almost inconceivable that they could find a way to turn:

    “We clearly understand that in July of 2011, we begin to draw down our forces,” Gates said. “The pace with which we draw down and how many we draw down is going to be conditions-based.”

    …into anything but a complete and total withdrawal, in the mere 13 months they have left. but i think they’ll give it a good try.

    It’s possible, but (I think) unlikely. Obama went with McChrystal’s plan for a surge, but if he’s unhappy with McChrystal’s performance, then I don’t think he’s going to stick with the guy’s plan.

    Not that a flip-flop is impossible (see: telecom immunity for spying) but in this case it seems unlikely.

    they could have him in DC by dinnertime, if they put him on an SR71

    If they had their druthers, they’d probably prefer to put him on a slow boat with no communications so he really has time to think about how big he just fucked up. But that’s not really practical.

  142. 142
    mr. whipple says:

    @demimondian:

    For instance, refusing to accept his resignation and ordering him to ferret out the malcontents in his staff

    I like this option best. Plus, the best punishment may be to send him back to finish his job, something he clearly wants out of. F him. Send him back to wind it down.

  143. 143
    Jager says:

    @MikeJ:

    For thousands of years insubordinate and failing military leaders have had their swords taken and broken while muffled drums played. I’m a traditionalist not a drama queen. Besides it would confuse the wingers, was Obama being a “manly and strong” leader or was he…ah, ah, ah…..just emotional, but wait….

  144. 144
    fucen tarmal says:

    obama could be meeting with the republican nominee in 2012, i do think the calculus of dismissing him, activates that scenario.

    thus, is this the guy you want to campaign against?

  145. 145
    FlipYrWhig says:

    How about this: Obama punishes McChrystal by putting him in charge of the oil spill! No, wait, McChrystal moves to Arkansas and runs as an independent against Blanche Lincoln!

  146. 146
    SIA says:

    @Mnemosyne: Or, McChrystal’s strategy is going to fail, and he wants to get out looking like a firecracker instead of a failure.

    Or, he’s just arrogant, delusional and/or stupid.

  147. 147
    Mnemosyne says:

    @sparky:

    or did i miss the memo saying public discourse was retired because it was too messy or not civil or bipartisan enough?

    I think John is talking about the pundits and talking heads who will turn this into another 24/7 “is Obama tough enough?” festival on every cable news channel, but if you want to classify them as mere yokels who have no influence on the media, be my guest.

  148. 148
    Mnemosyne says:

    @SIA:

    Looking at JGabriel’s pullquote, I’m voting for arrogance leading to stupidity.

    I’m hoping that McChrystal is another in the long line of people who have seriously misunderestimated Obama.

  149. 149
    Adam Collyer says:

    @RichJ:

    It’s not the individual act of keeping McChrystal v. firing him that marks Obama as weak: it’s everything he’s done as President thus far. Instead of casting Joe Lieberman aside, as he should have done, he made sure he kept his sinecure in the Senate—even though Lieberman made it clear he would obstruct Obama’s entire platform. He’s consistently backed Democratic enemies in Congress (Blanche Lincoln comes to mind) when progressive challengers come to the fore.

    Do I have to read the rest of this thread? We already had this argument this morning…

  150. 150
    Zifnab says:

    @mnpundit:

    Well it will simply mean civilian control of the military degrades and Democrats are once again tarred as the party of wimps bolstering GOP credentials on National Security.

    Nonsense. Civilian control of the military is riding strong. Just not the civilian President’s control. The military corporations, waiting in the wings to make McChrystal a wealthy anchor man or handsomely paid lobbyist in the style of Oliver North, get their fingers that much deeper into the military decision making process.

    Corporations get to control everything, all on the taxpayers dime. What a deal, eh?

  151. 151
    matoko_chan says:

    McChrystal is preparing his letter of resignation and it will be accepted. Although his plan is not working, he will run for office saying if only they would have listened to me.

    Obama should not accept it.
    If there is going to be a pharmekos, let it be McChrystal.
    McC is pre-staging the blame for the eventual Epic Fail of COIN in the Graveyard of Empires.
    There is no “winning” in the Graveyard, and McChrystal has now realized that…he is throwing blame chaff.
    We have already lost…the general has the raw data feed from the boots on the ground…he knows the truth.

    Now McChrystal would LIKE to be fired or replaced in advance of the bitter cup of fail that is coming to him.
    I think he should have to be in charge of overseeing the withdrawal….better yet…let him tell the media his strat is Fail, and we have already lost.
    Such hubris can only be punished by forcing him to witness i think.
    ate.

  152. 152
    Sheila says:

    After three years of reading from all sides what Obama should or should not do in regard to every nitpicking detail in the cosmos, I have come to the point where I am simply ready to lie back and trust him to know more than the entire media (including the blogosphere) combined, something I never thought I would come to say about an American President. I have deep issues with our pathological culture, which is why I would never want to govern it, but considering Obama does want to govern it, he most likely understands far better how to deal with it than do I, so I will attempt to confine myself to pushing humanitarian values in daily life, which I suspect is done as effectively outside of politics as within it.

  153. 153
    El Cid says:

    @Comrade Dread: Come back later, ‘batin’.

  154. 154
    Adam Collyer says:

    @J Fallows:

    Honored to be mentioned here, and appreciate the attention; but as a few of your commenters have mentioned, I didn’t say anything whatsoever about Obama needing to show his “strength” by firing McChrystal.

    Glad I kept reading this thread after all. Nice to have you around, Mr. Fallows.

  155. 155
    SIA says:

    From the James Joyner post:

    Hastings says McChrystal and his aides were drinking on the road trip “the whole way.”

    Many soldiers are drinkers, some of those have a problem. I grew up around the military, and if a general allows himself to drink heavily and talk too much, that is reason enough to get him out of there. He’s got a problem with alcohol, therefore he’s got a problem with perception, ego & reality.

    ETA: That being said, I still think he WANTS out.

  156. 156
    frankdawg says:

    ya know what I luvs about ya Jonny? You saw that you misunderstood (an easy enough mistake in this case) and you manned up & gave the guy his defense & then said “I screwed up!” No BS, no fake ‘its not my fault’ crap. Straight and clear – I munged this guys words.

    If 50% of the pundit crowd had that much integrity and that much humility (and lard knows they have a hell of a lot more to be humble about) our national discourse would almost be tolerable.

    Thanks

  157. 157
    slag says:

    OK. Now that I’ve read something about this topic, I have a question: Am I wrong in feeling like Robert Gates bears some responsibility here? Isn’t he McChrystal’s boss? If so, don’t McChrystal’s actions reflect badly on him as well?

    I honestly don’t know anything about this, so I am just wondering.

  158. 158
    Randy P says:

    @twiffer: Around our house, we call this checking in the mirror to see whether everything is still attached. Why do you have to “prove your manhood”? Don’t you already know without peeking?

    Apparently some people have to keep checking.

  159. 159
    matoko_chan says:

    @SIA: of course he wants out.
    July 2011 is the deadline for reassesment to start the drawdown.
    McC knows the Graveyard of Empires isn’t going to be in any state to do anything but GTFO at speed.
    We have already lost.
    RUN FOR THE CHOPPAH!
    McC got ever thin’ he asked for…..so now hes got to blame the fail on Eikenderry and Biden.
    This is a clear sign as well.

    Britain’s highest representative to the AfPak party has resigned.

    It seems Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, the British government’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, resigned over differences concerning talks with the Taliban.

    The Guardian says:
    While insisting Britain should support the US, he was quoted as saying in the Canard Enchaîné: “We should tell them that we want to be part of a winning strategy, not a losing one.” The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said his remarks had been distorted.

    As for the Washington Post:
    He had pushed for a political solution in Afghanistan and for higher priority to be given to talks with the Taliban and other insurgent groups, while expressing skepticism that increased military force could prevail.

    Quite a few officials in Afghanistan have said Sir Sherard did not see eye-to-eye with Ambassador Holbrooke, the NATO representative Mark Sedwill or Gen. McCrystal.
    “Cowper-Coles has been more downbeat, warning that the current battle in Afghanistan was “a civil war” and that the international community had “backed the wrong side”, according to one non-British diplomat.
    “He had increasingly come to believe that “sod-all can be done” about turning round the fortunes of the nine-year war, a top diplomat said, and is believed to have pushed strongly for the withdrawal of British troops as soon as possible.”

  160. 160
    Tom Hilton says:

    What does Fallows know? He wrote speeches for the White Obama.
    [/snark]

    (Fallows, btw, is one of the people I’m willing to give every benefit of every doubt; he’s always thoughtful and well-informed, even on those rare occasions when I think he’s wrong.)

  161. 161
    soonergrunt says:

    @stuckinred:

    Not only does he have to fire him he also should be charged under Article 88 of the UCMJ.

    “Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”

    Waht he said. And I’m a huge fan of McChrystal personally. I think the COIN strategy is the right way to go.
    I don’t think McChrystal or his staff are irreplaceable, though. He and his staff need to go, and Obama shouldn’t accept his resignation. He should relieve him of his command.

  162. 162
    soonergrunt says:

    @slag: No, you’re right. Gates could terminate McChrystal’s command (with approval of the President) at any time. In fact, that was how McChrystal became the commander in Afghanistan.
    GEN McKiernan was relieved of his command and replaced with McChrystal when Obama took over.

  163. 163
    AhabTRuler says:

    Couldn’t post this earlier:

    When it comes to reaping political advantage from our supposed military superiority, Americans have been getting a lousy return on their investment. One consistently overlooked explanation for this phenomenon is that the quality of American generalship since the end of the Cold War has seldom risen above the mediocre.
    __
    __
    – The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism (Andrew Bacevich) Highlight Loc. 2377-78

  164. 164
    Citizen Alan says:

    @Cacti:

    It’s a much more satisfying balm than just admitting your guy lost on his own merits.

    Okay, fine. Dean lost on his own merits. Just like Gore and Kerry did. Let’s all agree that the corporate media never plays any role whatsoever in manipulating public opinion to ensure that our President is always chosen from among the most rightwing, pro-corporatist candidates available.

    If only Dean hadn’t screamed. If only Gore didn’t sigh. If only Kerry ate Cheez Whiz on his sandwich like “real people.”

  165. 165
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @John Cole:

    I think I’ve pretty clearly butchered his remarks and intent.

    You know, John, this is one of the things I love most about you (well, and the animals, of course). You are a man of strong opinions and forceful views, and when they need to be defended you do so clearly and passionately — but when you get something wrong (or come into possession of more information), you acknowledge it equally clearly. And what’s more, you call attention to it so the rest of us will be aware of your change of mind or heart or information level.

    Anyone can (and god knows, anyone does) argue noisily. You say it straight out when you’re mistaken. Knowing that about you makes it very easy for me to trust what you have to say.

    I don’t mean that I think you’re right 100% of the time, of course, but I do think you’re as honest as humanly possible and go out of your way to correct the record and make amends if necessary.

    Classy guy.

  166. 166
    Kerry Reid says:

    Is this excellent news for John McCain?

    (Also echoing the “class act” comments about Mr. Cole’s retraction. That’s how it’s done.)

  167. 167
    bob h says:

    I’m sure the Taliban and Al Qaeda are going to make public relations hay out of all this.

  168. 168
    chaseyourtail says:

    Did I miss the part of the article where it describes McChrystal trashing hotel rooms and macking on groupies?

  169. 169
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @James Joyner:

    McChrystal has committed a criminal offense in violation of Article 88 of the UCMJ, after all.

    I wouldn’t be so quick on that one.

    Article 88 of the UCMJ prescribes:

    “Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”

    The “Manual for Courts-Martial,” which implements the UCMJ, says:

    “If not personally contemptuous, adverse criticism of one of the officials or legislatures named in the article in the course of a political discussion, even though emphatically expressed, may not be charged as a violation of the article.”

    According to the “The Military Judges’ Benchbook” :

    ” ‘Contemptuous’ means insulting, rude, disdainful or otherwise disrespectfully attributing to another qualities of meanness, disreputableness, or worthlessness.”

    Just not sure that McChrystal himself (as opposed to his staffers) made any comments about the requisite officials that would rise to this level. Maybe you can point some out?

  170. 170
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @Slowbama:

    Actually it sounds more like the “close to insurrection” sentiment is against McChyristal.

  171. 171
    ronrab says:

    Big credit to you for saying ‘well, I got it wrong here,’ John. I disagree with you a lot, but it’s the willingness to be up front and admit a mistake that keeps me reading.

  172. 172
    Vibius says:

    If this guy had any honor Obama wouldn’t have to make this decision. McChrystal should resign.

  173. 173

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