June 24th, 2010
08:00 AM ET
12 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. Dean

    Perhaps McChrystal realized that we were never going to win a limited engagement war and wanted out. We have NEVER won this type of war, still in Korea after 60 years. Maybe this was his way of telling the world how inept Obama is as CIC.

    June 24, 2010 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  2. Marty, FL

    Ms. Borger, then there are Republicans (Rand Paul, Barton, Ingraham, Newt, Bachmann, etc.) who think our president is being too tough on BP. Give me a break.

    The man apparently won't win over this kind of nonsense. President Obama correctly appoints General Petraeus to lead our mission, and the right-wing echo chamber STILL complains. Sad.

    Godspeed, Mr. President...persevere!

    June 24, 2010 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  3. Liam

    Your correct. Obama has been weak at every turn so this was definitely a political calculation to look like he might be able to punch through a wet paper bag. He really has had no leadership experiences to draw on so I have not expected much more than good speeches and that is all we have received.

    June 24, 2010 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  4. Average American

    The two are not related....poor judgment and immature behavior forced the president's hand. No one would tolerate such insubordination in such a public forum. Would you tolerate an employee who talked to reporters during a drinking party and talked negatively about company superiors, even calling them names? No, you would not!

    June 24, 2010 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  5. once upon a horse

    I know all the anti-Obama folks will line up behind the general and claim that "he only told the truth" and talk of freedom of speech. Anything to allow President Obama's somphmore jinx to continue....but if you put the politics aside and see no matter who the president is and if you agree or disagree with him, he is STILL the CIC and you don't diss him in public...and of all things to the Rolling Stone!! He left the president with not much choice and critics would have said he was weak if he kept him on and now some are saying he should have kept him on. No win for either side. At least nobody has asked Ms. Palin her opinioon on this...at least not YET!

    June 24, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  6. Paul

    There is a second question that is not being discussed. McChrystal was implementing President Obama's policy. Why did the commanding general feel that he (and the President) was being undermined by the civilian leadership in the White House and State Departments. To me, this is a more important question.

    June 24, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  7. Eunice

    You tell them POTUS... most people think kindness is weakness. Yea well maybe the new / old (so call image of what black people will now take and accept) they will rethink cause it AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN.

    June 24, 2010 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  8. Adalbert

    This general is now got it made. He is off the hook. He can start collecting his huge military pension and go to work for some defense contractor to make more big bucks. He can start double dipping and enjoy the good life, at our expense. Why not? After all he has accomplished nothing.

    June 24, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  9. Save America, impeach the treasonous republicans

    Really bad judgement and stupidity did McChrystal in. McChrystal was in charge of our Afghan war, and the other 'troubles' had nothing to do with his removal.

    June 24, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  10. Debra

    Obama behaved like a mad parent-I'll show you who is the boss!
    I think McChrystal spoke the truth and Obama didn't like it. Obama has bigger problems than McChrystal.

    June 24, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  11. Ex-Republican since McCain picked Palin

    The President will change the opinion polls to his favor before 2012. He may have inherited alot of bad problems, not been forceful enough to some (the haters) and some will be against whatever he does or says for many reasons. But I bet he will regain all his popularity and more before long.

    June 24, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  12. Lisa

    People need to quit bashing Obama over this and realize McChrystal violated a military code. Even McCain agrees this was the best choice. Presidents in the past have fired Generals. Bush fired two. Reagan fired Oliver North and look where he is now..Fox News. LOL.

    June 24, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  13. Grog in Ohio

    Why do pundits keep ignoring the clear fact that McChrystal violated the UCMJ? The choices were limited... resignation, firing or court martial. The rest if simply puffery.

    June 24, 2010 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  14. respect the commander-in-chief

    There is never good timing to negate the oath that every soldier takes-take orders from the commander-in-chief. This article is purely opinion, but please know the facts before you write. Gen. Honoree from Katrina mission said it best, there are no feelings to be discussed when a soldier has been given a mission. The reporter had no remorse, he does not care that he has ruined a soldier's career. He should be dismissed from the military.

    June 24, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  15. LIP

    Whatever the timing, it is said that "often the truth is spoke in jest", so we can probably safely say that McChrystal was speaking the truth as he saw it. This is not unusual coming from the military working supposedly in harmony with a civilian administration with no previous military experience. The military people on the ground don't have any confidence in directions coming from someone totally lacking in a shared experience.

    June 24, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  16. thor

    Gloria Borger has once again shown her inability to state anything but praise for this Commander in Deceit.Like most of the commentators in the media that raived about how this was a brillant move and how it showed his tremendous leadership skills,i wonder if she had a tingle moment much like Chris Matthews her friend at another cable channel.

    June 24, 2010 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
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