Conservatives should shed no tears over Gen. Stanley McChrystal's forced resignation as U.S. commander in Afghanistan this week. The man may have been a brilliant military strategist -- and is certainly a fine patriot -- but he exercised exceedingly poor judgment, which began long before he agreed to a Rolling Stone profile that got him fired. What's more, he squandered the chance to make a forceful case that the political calculus governing the Obama administration's Afghanistan policy endangers American lives and makes success less likely.
McChrystal's first mistake was to vote for Barack Obama. McChrystal told Rolling Stone that although he had voted for Obama, his first meeting with the president didn't go well. In a thinly disguised reference to "sources familiar with the meeting," Rolling Stone quotes its source -- unmistakably McChrystal -- as describing the president as "uncomfortable and intimidated" in a roomful of military brass. Well, what did he expect? He voted for a man who not only had zero military experience but no executive experience whatever -- and one, moreover, who positioned himself as the anti-war candidate during the Democratic primaries. And it is not as if Obama was running against a Republican with similarly unimpressive credentials. How could anyone whose top priority was the U.S. military pick Barack Obama over war hero John McCain?
Worse than his initial support for Obama, McChrystal's decision to allow a reporter -- and one from Rolling Stone magazine no less -- to spend a month observing his inner circle speaks volumes about his naivete. It's as if McChrystal lacks the innate ability to distinguish friend from foe. Journalists, by definition, are never your friends. They are out to make news -- and the only sure way to do that is to stir up controversy. What was McChrystal thinking when he welcomed reporter Michael Hastings into his circle? He allowed Hastings to observe his interaction with his top advisers not just in controlled settings but when the group went out for a night on the town, drinking until the wee hours of the morning -- all of it on the record.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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