June 24th, 2010
08:00 AM ET
8 years ago

Borger: Bad timing helped do in McChrystal

Editor's note: Gloria Borger is a senior political analyst for CNN, appearing regularly on CNN's "The Situation Room," "AC360°" and "State of the Union," as well as participating in special event coverage.

Washington (CNN) - Aside from his extraordinarily bad judgment, Gen. Stanley McChrystal also had something else working against him: bad timing. Really bad timing.

President Obama, you may recall, has lately had some troubles with public perception of the way he has been handling the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. His leadership has been questioned. In fact, Americans have downgraded his ability to handle a crisis by 11 points in the past year, according to CNN polls. They don't think he's a very tough guy.

That is, unless they caught his announcement of General Stanley McChrystal's "resignation." It wasn't a towel-snapping I've-had-enough-of-this-kind -of-insubordination statement. Rather, it was a reasoned, calculated explanation of why the commander-in-chief could not countenance McChrystal and his cronies bad-mouthing the president and his entire national security team.

The president was forceful, and clear: It "erodes the civilian control of the military," he said. It files in the face of the "strict code of conduct" for the military," he told us. And, by the way, debate is fine, but this president "won't tolerate division."

Or immaturity. Or anything that is not worthy of the risks the troops take each day.

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soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    And, by the way, debate is fine, but this president "won't tolerate division."

    Or immaturity. Or anything that is not worthy of the risks the troops take each day.

    You got THAT RIGHT! As well he shouldn't. After an 8 year drought we actually have a President that puts his actions where his mouth is in regards to our troops and their safety, versus leading them on egotistical, and unsubstantiated attack on a foreign BROWN country.


    June 24, 2010 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  2. g

    seems like mcchrystal want to find a wayout he got it by allowing a reporter to sit in on there conversation noing he would report it maybe black water offered him a big payday to come over to there camp.maybe the republican dream off a military state is on the horizon

    June 24, 2010 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  3. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    The civillians are in charge and the military commanders knows or at least in theory. Every member of the military understands that they can't have freedom to critize every civillian because erodes the trust that is built up between the Commander-in-Chief and the heads of military.

    If those heads of the military thought that the civillians giving commands were wrong, then they have two choices. The first choice is to resign and run for election to replace them. The second choice is follow orders and understand many coups have started that way where the millitary has taken over because they don't like the civillians in charge.

    June 24, 2010 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  4. ex-sarge

    there is a code of conduct in the service, McChrystal did not follow the code, he did not follow the chain of command (which whether he likes it or not, President Obama is at the top of this chain).Ask yourself what McChrystal would've have done if a private had said such things about him. Do you think he would've accepted his resignation? Ask Pat Tillman.

    June 24, 2010 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  5. His leadership has been questioned

    just a shame

    how can this help Obama to be seen as blanketedly dimissing someone who is doing the dirty work of Obama's government

    as a citizen I do not feel good about this

    the general only said what most of us think

    I am saying this as a democrat and an Obama supporter (still supporter, but saddened that a proven general is sacrificed)

    June 24, 2010 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  6. DENNA

    LOL, we elected President Obama because of his calm demeanor and thoughtful persona, now we suddenly want Rambo. The problem isn't President Obama, it's the American public who can't make up it's mind what it wants.

    Clearly General McChrystal could not remain a commander of any troops for this nation. You cannot ask our military to continue protecting America if their commanding officer makes snarky comments and disrespects his commander in chief, which President Obama is.

    I saw John McCain on television this morning with this smirk on his face. Apparently he thinks that a time line for withdrawal should not have been announced. Well, it should not have been, but America insisted on it. We want out and we elected the man who could give us a time line, NOW we're saying we have given the enemy a chance to just lay back because we have told them when we're leaving. Once again, I think it is the childlike American public who has to be appeased every five minutes.

    Give this nation back to the Republican party so that they can finish destroying it and put us out of our collective misery permanently.

    June 24, 2010 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  7. Johnny Five

    Foolish you are Gloria. You or Obama know nothing of the military and the hardships they face. You both sit high in your pretty dresses and drink wine while the men who built this country are being destroyed. One day soon, you wil have the benefit of what it means to fight for your country.

    June 24, 2010 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  8. Truth Hurts

    The man was absolutely correct in his views, however he can't say them in public.

    June 24, 2010 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  9. American Patriot - a "real" tea partier

    Thank you, American public, for voting in a competent, intelligent, thinking man such as Obama for president. After 8 years of the Bush/Cheney nonsense and rhetoric, we have a someone in there actually doing the job and doing it well.

    June 24, 2010 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  10. GI Joe

    I much prefer the quiet strength.

    We had 8 years of loud-mouth, bring it on type of cowboy bullying, and that didn't work so well.

    June 24, 2010 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  11. mrequet@hotmail.com

    In other words, "I fired him for political reasons to try and make myself look tougher so my political career might survive. I care nothing about what it might do to the troops or the actual war effort. It's all about me, not the war effort."

    A President that creates division and shows immaturity with everything it tries to do.

    June 24, 2010 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  12. RTB

    Dignity personafied.

    I appreciate the manner in which the Pres. handled the situation.

    McChrystal is obviously immature. The troops ought to be grateful such an unprofessional is out of there.

    June 24, 2010 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  13. Carlos

    Obama's move was the right choice – McC's actions (whether or not you agree with his sentiments) were flagrantly unprofessional.

    June 24, 2010 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  14. Get A Grip

    If Obama is so concerned about our military why did it take him so long to give Gen. McChrystal the troops he requested AND why did Obama only give him half of what Gen. McChrystal requested......Obama couldn't care less about our military and he gave Gen. McChrystal the boot because spoiled Obama didn't like hearing the truth from Gen. McChrystal.

    Hurry and write that Gen. McChrystal....I can't wait to read it.

    June 24, 2010 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  15. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Bad timing helped do in McChrystal

    Screw that! MCCHRYSTAL HELPED DO IN MCCHRYSTAL!! Period. Next subject, PLEASE.

    June 24, 2010 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  16. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    No, it's not that Obama "won't tolerate division," it's that he's too arrogant to tolerate disagreement.

    But, ad rem, you don't get to be a mostly-peacetime four-star general by being careless or by being stupid. I find it inconceivable that McChrystal didn't know exactly what the result of his comments would be and took the opportunity of the interview to resign in a spectacular way, making widely known his contempt for a thoroughly incompetent Administration.

    It's not clear to me if McChrystal's resignation was from the Army–one doesn't normally "resign" from the military–or from his current assignment–one doesn't normally "resign" from that either. But my guess is that, the next we hear from the man will be, as a retired senior officer, in connexion with a book he's written detailing the incompetence of the Obama administration.

    I understand he voted for Obama in 2008. Maybe, if he's decides to affiliate, or continue to affiliate, himself with the Democratic Party, he may run against Obama in 2012 for nomination as their presidential candidate.

    June 24, 2010 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  17. 60s survivor

    yes playing hardball is definately in order from here on out. good move president Obama from my point of view section 29630 of the peanut gallery!

    June 24, 2010 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  18. Steve (the real one)

    I disagree. This has nothing to do with timimg . This is all about a General who made public his thoughts concerning his civilian leadership. Not just that but he did not correct his officers who also made similar statements. He violated the UCMJ, his oath, and the requirements and expectations of an offficer and a gentleman. If Borger is correct in her assessment, she then colors the White House as juvenile and petty (tit for tat). I don't believe Borger is correct! I know some of my righty buds will disagree but the President had no choice but to can the General. There are quite a few folk who have no idea how the military operates making statements that are just wrong and simply political! The military is not a political organization and cannot be treated as such

    June 24, 2010 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  19. ben san roda

    Now we will find out if and when the President will "bad mouth" President Bush again. General Petreous & our troops–we are praying for you.

    June 24, 2010 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  20. Chipster

    I don't think there will ever be another President who doesn't "have troubles with public perception." The American people are divided by economics and religion. Advanced communication systems have ushered in a new era of misleading, exaggerated, and false information that spreads like a plague across our nation by television, websites, email, and newspaper columns. Huge profits are being made by keeping us divided, angry, and fearful. It's a very sad situation.

    June 24, 2010 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  21. brian in denver

    May the general enjoy his retirement. He's served his country well, but it's obviously time for him to turn in his sabre.

    June 24, 2010 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  22. MsMHS

    According to military protocol the president did what was expected. However, there was a protocol he could call upon for that decision. It's apparent there is no protocol for a disaster such as education, oil spills, recession, etc. The man in the White House is a community organizer, not a CEO, and the sooner the citizens of this country realize that, the better this country will be!

    June 24, 2010 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  23. JES

    Obama should be the one that needs to resign with all his lies not the General.

    June 24, 2010 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  24. TM in CO

    Beware all Americans of what you say against the leadship of this country or his staff. Freedom of speech has gone out the window where Obama is concerned.

    June 24, 2010 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  25. Riley

    Obama has the lowest approval ratings to date. No doubt they will continue to tank, as he is absolutely CLUELESS!

    Obama is so thin-skinned. He best get used to criticism, as he con tinues to earn all of it and more.

    June 24, 2010 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
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