Rep. Dave Obey (D-WI), one of the most-vocal critics of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, pulled no punches in his criticism of Gen. Stanley McChrystal Tuesday.
“I think Gen. McChrystal has crossed the line,” said Obey, the Chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee which decides how the government spends taxpayer dollars.
McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, apologized for using “poor judgment” in a Rolling Stone article where the general and his aides criticized the Obama Administration and even spoke dismissively about Vice President Biden and U.S. policy overseas.
“It’s the job of the generals to implement policy. Not to define it and dictate it,” said Obey. “It’s almost as though everyone is dumb but them.”
The Wisconsin Democrat will retire early next year after more than 40 years in Congress. He was elected amid a wave of antiwar sentiment during Vietnam and often lambasted the Bush Administration for initiating the war in Iraq. Obey said he believed McChrystal was “bull-headed.”
“The article simply indicates he is contemptuous of all people in the administration who are his civilian superiors. That’s a dangerous situation,” Obey said. “It’s dangerous to the Constitution. Dangerous to the military. It creates controversy about the military.”
President Obama recalled McChrystal to Washington for a face-to-face meeting Wednesday at the White House. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs declined to say whether the general’s job was safe.
On Capitol Hill, most lawmakers tip-toed around the McChrystal kerfuffle.
“I hope we can keep our eye on the ball here, which is to win in Afghanistan and not get diverted off of the -- off of that onto these other issues that seem to have developed,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), the leading Republican on the House Armed Services Committee called McChrystal’s remarks “unfortunate” but added “it was appropriate that General McChrystal issued an apology."
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) argued that “a general and his top brass don’t make statements like these without being frustrated. So I hope that the president’s meeting with General McChrystal will include a frank discussion about what is happening on the ground.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) declined to wade into the controversy because he had not read the article.
But Obey had.
“I’ve lived through a lot of renegade generals,” Obey said, “If he actually said half of what is being reported, he shouldn’t be in the position he is in.”
- FOX’s Trish Turner contributed to this report.