The Obama Watch

His Swallowed Pride

Why did the President select a general he not long ago openly disdained?

By 6.24.10

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I'm not saying that General McChrystal did nothing wrong. His comments were clearly inappropriate. But if there is anyone who should be able to get away with such comments, it's General McChrystal. Not only because he puts his life on the line every single day for the American people, but because we need him. The President has said that his decision to accept the General's resignation is not personal, yet he accepted it anyway. 

But if it wasn't personal, what other reason is there?

The only other possible person to lead the war in Afghanistan was General Petraeus, and the President knows that. But what signal is he sending by selecting him?

General Petraeus, after all, is the general that President Obama vehemently criticized when he was running for President. He continually said what a poor job our leaders had done in Iraq, but that Afghanistan was a war worth fighting.

General Petraeus is a general that liberals have been more than displeased with for a long time.

In late 2007, the liberal MoveOn.org published a full-page ad in the New York Times that said "General Betray Us," featuring, of course, an enormous picture of General Petraeus.

Largely, no one supported this ad disparaging a courageous man who has put everything on the table -- including his life -- to protect us here at home. Even during the presidential election, then-Senator Hillary Clinton rushed to Washington to vote in favor of a resolution condemning MoveOn.org for the ad.

Barack Obama also rushed to Washington. He voted that week. But he was conspicuously absent from the vote to condemn MoveOn.org. The resolution passed 72 to 25, with overwhelming Democratic support, but without the support of this President. 

Missing votes while you're running for President happens all the time, but Senator Obama was in Washington and his opponent, Senator Clinton, made the vote.

It is clear that the President does not like General Petraeus. It is clear that the President does not think General Petraeus did a good job in Iraq. But he selected him anyway because General McChrystal took his ego down a notch. 

Ego is what determined the fate of General McChrystal. No matter what the President says, it is ego and ego alone.

While there may be a situation where a military commander should resign for comments such as General McChrystal's in Rolling Stone, this is not it. We need him more than the President needs an ego boost. And we need General Petraeus as the commander of U.S. Central Command. We have enough problems at home, let's not make our military efforts abroad a problem again.

Of all that is happening in the world this very instant, ego is the least of the President's problems.

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About the Author

Russ Ferguson is a lawyer and writer in Charlotte, North Carolina.