General Stanley McChrystal, commander of American forces in Afghanistan, was fired today by President Obama for criticizing the president and members of his adminstration in an article in the left-wing magazine Rolling Stone.
When the news first broke that Gen. McChrystal was in hot water with the president I didn't know what to make of it. I know the military has rules governing what its members can and can't do and say. I know those rules can be far more strict than the rules applied to civilians. So, when I heard that Obama was upset with McChrystal I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. After all, I had no way of knowing if what McChrystal said in Rolling Stone equalled insubordination. If the general's remarks did violate the military's code then Obama acted appropriately today. But I have a problem cutting Chicago BO some slack, and here it is.
Barack Obama is the most thin skinned president in recent history. His epidermis is flimsier than a wet Kleenex. The man does NOT like criticism. Consequently, it's almost impossible for me to believe that his sacking of McChrystal was anything but retribution for the general's dissent. Yes, Obama claimed that "personal insult" had nothing to do with McChrystal's firing, but c'mon. Barack Obama is the president who tried to discredit an entire news channel because he felt it wasn't "sufficiently supportive" of him. But now we're supposed to believe that General McChrystal's gone simply because Obama's devoted to order in the military. Again, come on!
Obama's star is fading fast. In less than two years he's gone from being a messiah to a false prophet. He knows he must salvage his image among the people. Perhaps Obama thought that sacking McChrystal would make him look strong and decisive and allay Americans' increasing doubts about his leadership. It won't. Instead, most Americans will probably see firing a great general when he's needed most as a vindictive act by a president childishly intolerant of dissent. The McChrystal affair could've helped Obama regain some of his lost mojo but the president sabotaged himself with his previous mishandling of criticism. And I actually think that's too bad.