JEFF PEARLMAN

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The McChrystal Issue

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For those of you who haven’t heard, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, has been summoned to the White House in the wake of remarks he made to Rolling Stone. Among other things, McChrystal referred to James L. Jones, the national security advisor, as “a joke” and mocked Vice President Biden. Perhaps the most damaging part of the article was attributed to one of McChrystal’s aides, who said the general was “pretty disappointed” by a White House meeting with Obama, and that he found the president to be “uncomfortable and intimidated” during a Pentagon meeting.

Why is this the most damaging? Because, politically, it allows Republicans to continue with their narrative that the president isn’t capable; that he’s all substance, little action. And, truth be told, were this George W. Bush being described by a general, we Democrats would be all over it, too. We’d laugh and taunt and mock—as the Republicans will do to Obama. All’s fair in love and politics.

The question is—does Obama fire McChrystal? The pundits say Yes. I say No—definitely not. Maybe he resigns. Maybe he resigns under pressure. But how would it look for the president to can a capable general because of some stupid comments? Not good. Should he lose his job? Yes—and I’d say the same thing were Bush president. It’s unprofessional, way out of line, completely wrong. But the damage for Obama only intensifies if he dismisses McChrystal.

Wacky times.

Wacky.