Obama has finally hit a home run. He handled the McChrystal affair quickly, decisively, wisely and graciously, and in doing so for the first time seemed like a Chief Executive of the United States instead of someone playing the part in a movie.
The president had to fire McChrystal. If he had allowed him to stay, he would have had to fight a rear guard action for the rest of his presidency.
Lots of his policies aren’t going well, including healthcare, the economy, jobs, Iran’s nuclear program, in addition to Afghanistan. If he had allowed McChrystal to trash talk his team and his policies, then everyone who disagreed with the president’s other policies would have figured he could do so too, without the risk of losing his job.
The choice of Gen. Petraeus was inspired. If you had to list the ten greatest generals in American history, Petraeus would be on the list. He almost single-handedly turned around the War in Iraq. If there is anyone who can do the same in Afghanistan, it’s Petraeus. He’s beloved by the troops, especially the junior officer corps. He is an iconic figure to our allies and instills fear in our adversaries. He’s respected on Capitol Hill and knows how to work with the media without getting into trouble. And, he’s the best salesman this administration has for articulating and selling the war.
Finally, the president handled McChrystal’s forced resignation with grace, expressing regret but an urgency to appoint a new general. “Stan McChrystal has always shown great courtesy and carried out my orders faithfully,” President Obama said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “I've got great admiration for him and for his long record of service in uniform.”
All in all, a good day in the Rose Garden.