Conservative Pundits, Lawmakers Split Over McChrystal Resignation

Conservative pundits have been critical of Gen. Stanley McChrystal for talking trash about the administration to a Rolling Stone reporter, but many are arguing that Obama shouldn’t have accepted the general’s resignation, and that in fact it’s Obama’s poor judgment that started the mess.

“It’s a sad day for American military,” when you get rid of “an American hero” retired U.S. Army general Tony Tata told Fox anchor Megyn Kelly. “He should have been taken to the woodshed,” he insisted, but not relieved of his command. Tata insisted that McChrystal was “making progress” and that “no one understood counterterrorism or counterinsurgency the way McChrystal did.”

In remarks earlier today, Obama said it was critical for the military to have “respect for civilian control over the chain of command,” and while pundits are complaining, Republican and conservative lawmakers appear to be mostly silent or are backing the president. “I appreciate the bravery and service of General McChrystal, and I understand and respect the president's decision concerning General McChrystal," said John McCain, who has otherwise been a fiercely vocal critic of Obama’s handling of Afghanistan.

House Republican leader John Boehner also threw his support behind Obama, saying that he respected the decision and that Gen. David Petraeus was “the right man” to take command in Afghanistan. In fact, by announcing that the well-respected Petraeus would take over, Obama has likely squelched further criticism over the McChrystal dust-up.

Earlier this week, some Republican lawmakers seemed to be leaning toward McChrystal’s side, but McCain, joined by Sen. Joe Lieberman and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham released a joint statement saying the comments were “inappropriate and inconsistent with the traditional relationship between Commander-in-Chief and the military."

Conservative pundits and bloggers disagree. On Fox, retired general Tata said the punishment did not fit the crime, and that McChrystal was “ill-served” by his aides and failed to “watch his flank” but was just “letting off steam in a high-pressure environment.” Although McChrystal had already upset the administration last fall when he publicly complained that he didn’t have the number of troops he needed to succeed in Afghanistan, Tata argued that the general needed to get things off his chest and that letting him go could have a chilling effect on letting reporters embed with the military.

According to a poll of Fox viewers conducted right after the announcement, some 63 percent said McChrystal should have been forgiven. Even before the resignation, opinions had hardened in favor of McChrystal. After first reading the Rolling Stone article, Rush Limbaugh told his listeners, “This is an extraordinary story because most of what is said is true.” Fox’s Sean Hannity criticized McChrystal’s comments but said that, on a broader scale, Obama was to blame. “It is another example that Obama is a very poor manager,” he said. Later he added, “it seems that Obama cannot manage the people around him out of a wet paper bag.”

Cliff May, in National Review’s The Corner, added, “McChrystal has issued an apology. That ought to be the end of the story as far as the White House is concerned. A war is underway. Fight it. Win it. Real statesmen don’t spend time worrying that their feelings have been hurt by their BFFs.”