--Sweetheart, you’re talking to yourself again.
--I was dressing myself down. I was taking myself out to the woodshed.
--Please don’t tell me you forgot to turn off the coffee maker again. We don’t need any more caffeinated tar.
--Nope, on top of the coffee maker.
--But you needed dressing down. Discipline.
--That’s it, I lack discipline. Toughness and grit. Those are the qualities in short supply with me. But not with General Stanley McChrystal. I just read his discipline level allows him only one meal a day.
--Well, he’ll have lots more time for the gym now. Maybe he can add a snack.
--He will, that’s true. Although they run a pretty tight ship at these cable networks. I imagine he’ll be spending lots of time there soon.
--You see him doing color commentary on the war in Afghanistan?
--Almost certainly. After all, TV has welcomed back Elliot Spitzer. Notice how they’ve been rehabilitating him lately? He has his own show now. I see the same thing figuring for McChrystal.
--Ah well. Life goes on. But I don’t see how this calls for you to dress yourself down.
--I commented on a blogger’s posting yesterday. Mature Landscaping, very astute, very capable. She’d read the article in Rolling Stone that got the general fired. She thought the journalist Michael Hastings had no business publishing such a piece in wartime. And she thought McChrystal was wrong to talk to the guy.
--I can’t agree about not publishing. How about [Mayor Kwame] Kilpatrick? If the Free Press hadn’t published those text messages to his lover, he’d still be in office instead of prison.
--True. I was going to say that’s different because Kilpatrick’s a civilian, but it’s not. McChrystal’s most certainly a politician, too. That’s why I’ve been beating up on myself.
--I see there’s more. Let me get my coffee.

--OK. You needed to give yourself a good talking-to because you failed to realize McChrystal’s a politician.
--Exactly. In my comment to Mature Landscaping, I lamented the level of stupidity being demonstrated by our leaders. By Bush getting us into a pointless war in Iraq. By Governor Sanford from the great state of South Carolina imagining he could conceal a visit to his South American mistress by claiming he was going camping. By the CEO of BP making every possible public-relations mistake possible—and now by McChrystal being stupid enough to talk to a Rolling Stone journalist.
--You think he did it on purpose? To get himself cashiered?
--Thanks to Brian Dickerson’s column in today’s Free Press, yes I do. He set me straight. Whereas I thought it depressing as hell to see a four-star general being stupid, Dickerson sees a four-star general as someone who can’t get where he is without being night-and-day vigilant regarding the chain of command. This has to be true, don’t you think? Unless Old Boy ties and nepotism are rampant in the military, I think you have to assume people don’t achieve that level of professional success without being fine-tuned in political terms. Without always knowing who’s boss, and what needs to be said or left unsaid.
--My experience at the UAW pretty much fits with what you say.
--Mine as a professor as well. No one gets a promotion simply on the basis of scholarship, or good teaching. You can serve on all committees you like, but it's always important to keep happy those who make such decisions. Department chairs, deans, the provost. In other words, the chain of command.
--If I understand this, you now think McChrystal gamed the system. You think he played the journalist, and organized his inner circle to do the same. It was orchestrated.
--Thanks to Brian Dickerson, yes I do. “McChrystal spent five years as chief of the Pentagon’s elite secret operations unit.” And this guy spills his guts to a journalist from Rolling Stone inadvertently? In a moment of inattention? After dinner, I’ll be down in the basement with my flagellum, pounding some sense into me.
--Fine, but don’t forget tomorrow’s junk day, don’t hurt yourself. You need to get those barrels out for pickup.
--I’ll remember. Jokes aside, I am ashamed of myself for being so naïve.
--You know? In a way, it means you still have some little piece of idealism left. It didn’t automatically occur to you that deviousness and skullduggery was at work with the general.
--That’s true, but it’s no comfort. McChrystal is the one who designed the current counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan. He seems to have arranged a leak last year that would make it much more difficult for Obama & Co to not raise troop levels and expand the war. Now, McChrystal must see his plan isn’t going to work. Time to bail. Time to offer ramrod-stiff “analysis” between commercials. And explain why someone else has failed in Afghanistan.


  1. By George, I think you've made a very good point here, because for the life of me I could not figure out someone in McChrystal's position could be so stupid. Unless he was indulging in some of that fine Afghan poppy potion.

    Yep, I expect Faux News has already signed him to a deal.

  2. Jayne--
    Either way, it's bad news. If McChrystal failed to realize what would happen, that means our chain of command promotes such people to four-star rank (of course, Republicans assisted by five members of the Supreme Court elected a mediocrity to be Commander-in-Chief for what turned out to be eight years). If, however, the general knew exactly what would happen, that makes him devious as hell.

  3. Sorry to be slow on this post. It's excellent, as usual.

    The only thing that keeps me from complete and total despair over the human race is the search for just one guy who, rather than knowingly, cannily fucking over his countrymen, actually admits to making a mistake. I have no idea if Stanley McChrystal is such a guy, but even top military commanders make mistakes. As Ryan notes, it's a test, isn't it?

    If McChrystal knowingly, cannily, hung his troops out to dry--let our sons and daughters( (who are STILL trying to figure out the mission and who needed this destabilization like they needed another IED)step out of cover and try to do their jobs over there with just one jot more vulnerability than they already experience every single moment in Afghanistan--if McChrystal did THAT to preserve his ego and line his pockets on FOX, then he deserves to be shot at dawn, no blindfold.

    And, I hope if Obama had heard anything but the most abject shame and humility from McChrystal last week, he'd have done more than just accept the man's resignation.

    I am often so very wrong. I need all the help I can get in my search. Help me find just one man, buddy.

  4. About finding just one man among our military commanders I can offer nothing. I'm a lifelong civilian who served in the Peace Corps, not the Marine Corps--and am as proud of my service as any gyrene is of his. But I have become more and more of a believer regarding Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida, an unapologetic liberal with guts who also happens to have that most rare gift among politicians--true wit. Check him out, it may help you to feel better.

  5. Jay Inslee of Washington state is a good man, too.

    Dickerson is right to a point. But why go out with a Roman candle jammed up your arse? McChrystal got arrogant, as so many of them do. Maybe he thought it was cool to talk with someone from Rolling Stone, if he even knows what it is. Anyway, if this was part of a master plan, it's an even better thing that he's out.

  6. I've heard of Grayson and will pay more attention. Not familiar with Islee. It sho' ain't Lindsey, ya'll.


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