Thursday, June 24, 2010

The well-tempered Presidential anecdote

Okay, who planted this little anecdote in the Times narrative of Obama's decision-making process re McChrystal?

The press secretary, Robert Gibbs, walked a copy of it to the president in the private quarters. After scanning the first few paragraphs — a sarcastic, profanity-laced description of General McChrystal’s disgust at having to dine with a French minister to brief him about the war — Mr. Obama had read enough, a senior administration official said. He ordered his political and national security aides to convene immediately in the Oval Office.

Dissing the French, dissing the job, retorting like a teen to his aide, not a word about any Administration official....highlighting this perfectly emphasizes Obama's keynote:

I don't make this decision based on any difference in policy with General McChrystal, as we are in full agreement about our strategy.  Nor do I make this decision out of any sense of personal insult.  Stan McChrystal has always shown great courtesy and carried out my orders faithfully.  I've got great admiration for him and for his long record of service in uniform...

But war is bigger than any one man or woman, whether a private, a general, or a president.  And as difficult as it is to lose General McChrystal, I believe that it is the right decision for our national security. 

The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general.  It undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system.  And it erodes the trust that’s necessary for our team to work together to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan.
For what it's worth, I had a similar reaction to the opening paragraphs of Hastings' story. Literally giving the finger to the diplomatic side of his job -- it's not shocking that McChrystal would vent that way. But in front of a reporter? It seems as self-destructive as Spitzer with his call girl.

The lede (and indeed the whole tenor) of the Times story is a gift after all those "dithering" charges last fall:
By the time he woke up Wednesday morning, President Obama had made up his mind. 
Right, and per Harry Truman, will never lose a night's sleep over it.


  1. I haven't encountered anyone, on either side of the partisan divide (or even the antiwar/war sides, which is less partisan than one might imagine) who thinks Obama handled this situation poorly. To my (pleasant) surprise.

  2. Even Krauthammer! Of course, he criticizes the date for beginning withdrawal, and refuses to acknowledge that it's conditions-based, but I don't think there's been a K column in 20 years that had a better fact-to-lie ratio.