After President Obama's serial petulence towards and treatment of former President Bush, the GM's CEO Rick Wagoner, a majority of the United States Supreme Court during the Stae of the Union, John McCain and Paul Ryan in the Blair House "summit," medical doctors and other health care execs throughout the Obamacare debate, and everyone in the oil industry but especially BP's senior execs since the explosion in the Gulf --in short, of everyone he perceives as a threat or who has been insufficiently awed by his talent and deferential to his wishes-- we shouldn't be surprised that he took less than 40 hours to sack his hand-picked commander in Afghanistan even after Obama himself spent four months dithering over that commander's recommendations. The president isn't much of a decider except when it comes to lashing out at anyone who threatens his own carefully developed self-image.
He is also spectacularly ungracious, dragging an American hero half-way around the world only to embarass him in an Oval Office dressing down followed by a drumming out of his command.
The stage had been set for the president to accept an apology from General McChrystal and send a warrior back to his vitally important work. Why else summon the general to the Oval Office? McCain and others had provided the president with the cover he needed by emphasizing the president's authority as C-in-C, thus providing him with an opportunity to bring everyone, including McCrystal, on to the same key page of winning the war. President Obama had a chance to take a page from President Lincoln's guide to the presidency.
Instead the president pulkled the equivalent of sacking Patton and sending Ike to run the Third Army. Now, as a confrontation looms with Iran and a crucial hand-over approaches in Iraq, David Petraeus, the country's leading strategist (and a man the president must view competitor for attention within the Beltway) gets sent Afghanistan and CentCom gets a new leader.
General Petraeus is of course a great and gifted commander and will do a great job, but that such a change has been made and such a sacrifice demanded because of a Rolling Stone interview is stunning and very dispiriting. The blind side General McChrystal exposed to a representative of the hard left media is beyond explaining, but even if the change had to be made, there was no need to do it this way.
The president has an unerring instinct for taking any tough situation and making it worse, whether it is the recession, the car business, health care, the oil spill and now the war in Afghanistan.
General McChrystal had his critics, of course, and many respected commentators thought the president should fire him.
But the United States needs a war time president, which means one who can see past the headline of the day and the day-to-day news cycle to focus on victory in a long and difficult struggle with a relentless and deadly enemy.
Like Lincoln, FDR and W discovered, success in war requires patience with warriors in the field, and only occasionally changes in command when those warriors either won't or can't fight or won't agree to the overall strategic mission.
Those weren't Stanley McChrystal's faults. Like all of President Obama's other targets, the general failing in the eyes of the president had everything to do with Obama, not the war. Thus he had not only to be removed, but also humbled.
Exactly like Lincoln wouldn't have done it.