President Barack H. Obama (D-IL) (whitehouse.gov)
This is not the first time Gen. McChrystal has made controversial comments about the President and his administration. In a London speech in October 2009 that were directed toward the President, forcing the President to call a hasty meeting on the tarmac in Copenhagen.
Sources who were there say that the President dressed-down (calmly) the General, warning him not to do it again.
Well, he did it again.
Hastily, the General was on a plane to Washington, to meet with some of the National Security Team at the Pentagon (Defense Secretary Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mullen). He then went on to visit President Obama in the Oval Office, in what was described as a “blistering interview”.
The White House rebuke of McChrystal on Tuesday suggested that it would be hard for him to give an explanation that would be enough to save his job.
If it's not insubordination, the remarks were at least a public challenge to the authority of his commander. There hasn't been an incident like this between a President and a top wartime commander since Harry Truman relieved Gen. Douglas MacArthur of his command more than 50 years ago, after disagreements over Korean War strategy.
Notably, neither McChrystal nor his team questioned the accuracy of the story or the quotes in it. McChrystal issued an apology.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs repeatedly declined to say McChrystal's job was safe yesterday, and questioned whether McChrystal is "capable and mature enough" to lead the war. Considering the normally measured tones of a White House Press Secretary, that's some extraordinary language. It appeared the writing was on the wall.
And it was.