Bottom line, we’re watching a very public game of chess going on between two major players and someone has to lose decisively. There can be no draws or compromises.
Because General McChrystal is openly challenging the authority of the president and no president can let such an open challenge stand without profoundly damaging his brand and the brand of the presidency.
And make no mistake, this is definitely an open challenge.
You simply don’t get to the level of authority that General McChrystal has reached and invite a Rolling Stone reporter in to write an article on your opinions and the opinions of your closest staff unless you damn well want to challenge the commander in chief in a very public way.
Common sense tells us this and so does the writer of the article himself who has said he strongly believes that a message was being sent by McChrystal.
Barack Obama has no good choices here, but the worst choice would be to back down because that will transmit incredible weakness.
What we’re looking at is a Truman versus MacArthur moment here. Truman, too, was seen as a weak military leader certainly compared to MacArthur but by getting rid of MacArthur at a critical moment, Truman accomplished several things.
First, he asserted the preeminence of a civilian commander of the military.
Second, he showed that there were more things to consider than simply a military solution to the problem on the Korean peninsula and that the nuclear option was out. But, perhaps most important, he showed his leadership strength and sent the message that no one, not even a military genius like MacArthur, is indispensable in our great country.
There were other great military leaders waiting in the wings who could get the job done and do so without insubordination.
Fact is, this could be a golden opportunity for President Obama to take charge and even harness the optimism and can-doism that put him in the White House in the first place.
His brand has been looking very beleaguered lately especially with the abysmal misfiring and sloppiness of the federal response to the oil spill in the Gulf.
Showing General McChrystal the door and replacing him with another great military talent might just help remind America that we’re not a nation of one-trick ponies –we’ve got a deep bench of talent waiting to shine.
Heck, he could even take inspiration from one of his models, Abraham Lincoln, who famously said to one of his generals: “If you don’t want to use the army, I should like to borrow it for a while.”
And, remember, things are always easier when you keep marketing and branding in mind.
John Tantillo is a marketing and branding expert and president of the Marketing Department of America who markets his own services as The Marketing Doctor. He is a frequent contributor to the Fox Forum and the author of a new book "People Buy Brands, Not Companies."
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