Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Daily Strike-6/22/10-Insubordination

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. Today was the first day in a long time that a news story other than the oil spill dominated Washington. I guess that's good?

MCCHRYSTAL: The top General in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal, is in hot water, and for good reason. In an ill-advised interview to a freelance reporter with The Rolling Stone, McChrystal made a variety of disparaging comments about those above him in the chain of command. Among the targets of his criticism (some of it conveyed through aides), were President Obama, Vice President Biden, Ambassador to Afghanistan Elkenberry, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, and National Security Advisor Jim Jones. McChrystal said that Obama was not prepared for their first meeting together, and that he came away from that meeting "unimpressed." He made some not-so-veiled references to his disagreements with Vice President Biden, who opposed the troop buildup. He referred to Jones as a "clown" stuck in the 1980's.

I'm not the type of guy who believes strongly in authority structures. That is, except when it comes to civilian control of the military. Civilian command of the military is fundamental to democracy. Commanders serve at the pleasure of the President, and expected to serve with nothing but honor and loyalty. If the General has a problem with someone, he must convey it privately, lest this sacrosanct chain of command be interrupted. By all measures, McChrystal should be fired. This, in fact, is an offense that can get you in trouble in military courts.

McChrystal has been criticized by pretty much everyone, including members of both parties, Defense Secretary Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen, and late this afternoon, the President himself. Obama said that he is very disturbed by this interview, but that he wanted to talk with McChrystal by making any decisions. Rumor has it that McChrystal has put his resignation on the table, and it's up to Obama whether to accept it.

This isn't just about some stupid comments to a magazine. Obama can't let himself be bullied around by the military brass, like previous Democratic Presidents have been. Others have been afraid of standing up to military leaders because they think they'll be accused of being anti-military. McChrystal can't be allowed to get away with undermining the President. The President is counting on him to execute his strategy for Afghanistan, and he needs his full commitment and support. I hope McChrystal is no longer a commander by tomorrow.

OIL MORATORIUM: In more bad news for the White House today, a District Court judge filed an injunction against the administration's deepwater drilling moratorium. This is a horribly bad decision, because we need to figure out what went wrong and how to drill safely before we cause more damage to the environment. The judge who filed the injunction is a Reagan appointee who has a lot of stock invested in oil companies. Go figure. The administration is appealing the decision.

THE SENATE: The Senate is in a holding pattern as Democratic leaders try to figure out how to pass this long-stalled extenders package. I heard rumors this morning that Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) was ready to throw in the towel on this bill, which made me cringe. I read articles this afternoon, though, that indicated that Democrats are still trying to pass the bill, and are looking to negotiate with Maine moderates Snowe and Collins. The most likely concession would be cuts in Medicaid aid to states. Making devastating cuts out of vague concern for the deficit is short-sighted and nihilistic, but if it's the only way we can get unemployment benefits extended and other aid to state governments, then so be it. I'm just hoping they can get something done before the July 4th recess, which begins next Friday.

THE HOUSE: The House just dealt with some suspension bills today. Tomorrow, they will vote on a measure that would give the President's Oil Spill commission full subpoena power. On Thursday, they'll finally take up the DISCLOSE Act, the campaign finance bill we discussed yesterday. Sources say that Democrats should have enough votes to pass the bill when it comes to the floor.

That's it for tonight, see you tomorrow.

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