It probably seemed like a good idea at the time for Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan, to tell Rolling Stone exactly what he thought of the Obama administration. Have your aides make seventh-grade jokes about the vice-president ("Biden? Did you say Bite Me?") and call the national security adviser a "clown" — what could go wrong?
The result: An immediate summons to the White House Situation Room and very possibly getting fired.
McChrystal previously ran U.S. Special Forces and was criticized for his role in the cover-up of the friendly-fire death of former pro football player Pat Tillman.
I know what he was thinking: he was tired of being the victim of what he believes is a concerted effort on behalf of Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry and others to undermine everything he was given 18 months to do. He was tired of being perceived in the press as a neoconservative killer, Dick Cheney's hired assassin, or disloyal to President Obama and his staff.
He really cleared up that last bit. No one could question his loyalty now.
For a top soldier to put his thumb in the eye of his commander-in-chief — Rolling Stone quotes McChrystal aides as saying that President Obama "clearly didn't know anything about him" when they met in person — shows either a shocking amount of chutzpah or an alarming lack of tactical awareness. Neither of which is all that desirable in a general.
You can read the full Rolling Stone article here, via Politico.
Update: Rolling Stone, having reconsidered its innovative "publicize a provocative story that no one can link to our even buy on the newsstand yet" strategy, has posted the story on its website.