What Would Pres. Bartlett Do?

President Bartlett would not fire Gen. McChrystal.

BTW… here is another example of a volcano influencing history.

It seems McChrystal and staff were stuck together for a long time because of the volcano in Iceland.

Oops.

Do you get the feeling that for the last three years we have been living in the last couple episodes of The West Wing?  I mean… a West Wing that makes the Bartlett administration seem almost… Right Wing?

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47 Responses to What Would Pres. Bartlett Do?

  1. EXCHIEF says:

    Like most good military men the General would more than likely resign rather than be fired. Shame either way

  2. Supertradmum says:

    Gen. McChrystal was labelled by Karzai as the best general so far in the war. I imagine the General is very frustrated regarding his leadership and his men, which is probably why he agreed to the interview/articles.

    The Wall Street Journal poll shows overwhelming support for the General. But then, many of us seem to think we do not have a leader in the WH. I like MacArthur, from historical studies, as well, so maybe I am prejudiced towards the “man on the ground”.

    Where there is criticism, there is usually some truth.

  3. capchoirgirl says:

    Naw, President Barlett could handle this.
    (Speaking of Martin Sheen…watching him in Gettysburg right now)

  4. TJerome says:

    President Lefty will be lucky if he isn’t deposed by the military. [Ahhhh that use of self-editing has been set aside again. Twice in as many days! Third strike coming soon?]

  5. Supertradmom:

    MacArthur : Truman
    McChrystal : ….. ?!?

  6. Supertradmum says:

    Sorry, Father, the analogy was not meant to compare presidents, but the situation. Imagine if Truman had agreed to the Chinese front. Maybe no Mao…no Mao ornaments on el presidente’s tree. I do not necessarily like some of the language used in the articles and some military people may not like the fact that Esquire and Rolling Stone were the media, but the General has communicated his frustration, a frustation many of us feel, with the lack of leadership.

    And, as to jokes about the vice-president in the article, well, the past ones made fun of themselves as non-entities.

  7. Supertradmom: Maybe no Mao ornaments on el presidente’s tree.

    zzzzzzZZAP

  8. mfg says:

    God bless General McChrystal, and General Pace and General McArthur. God only knows what that man in the White House will do tomorrow. Pray.

  9. Supertradmum says:

    We know what he is going to do, but I shall become “off-thread”….Where are the real men? I think in the armed forces. God bless the Generals.

  10. Barnabas says:

    God bless our generals. You’re right, Father, President Bartlett would not fire General McCrystal. However, I think President Santos would. Correction: Santos would be reluctant, Josh would throw a Rahm-like temper tantrum, then Santos would fire him.

  11. amylpav22 says:

    For all his faults, at least Martin Sheen is pro-life and would probably make a better leader.

  12. Jacob says:

    Karzai as a credibility reference is not convincing considering his own track record of governing his country.

    Besides, war correspondents like Michael Yon have not presented McChrystal as a brilliant strategist and tactician in the mold of his boss General Petraeus.

    General McChrystal should have either resigned and then gone before Congress or else kept his comments to himself and his staff and made sure that no one spoke out to a roving freelancer who could public indiscretions in Rolling Stone. As much as I dislike Mr. Obama and his politics, certain parties spent eight years telling Democrats to respect the office of President and I will continue to do so even with its current occupant.

  13. B.C.M. says:

    You know… As a matter of fact, I have been thinking that a lot recently. Especially since my Fiancee and I are starting the final season of West Wing… The Santos story-arc does bear some striking resemblances to the Obama story-arc…. Josh and his cults of personality disorder would demand to fire the general… “and anyone who was happy about it…”

  14. Gwen says:

    I’m a retired USAF Colonel (O-6) with 26 1/2 years of service and four of that in command billets, Command and Staff College, and War College. I say this not to brag, but to establish that I might actually know what I’m talking about–because I know my thinking will inflame some folks here.

    IMHO, there is only one time that a serving officer can publically disagree with (or criticize, or belittle) the president, VP, or SECDEF, and that is during his resignation speech. It is an officer’s constitutional duty to give sound military advice to civilian authorities. Once he gives that advice, he either follows the policy established by the civilian authorities, or he resigns. No other choices exist if we are to maintain civilian control of the military. It doesn’t matter how right or wrong the officer might be.

    If Gen McChrystal said what’s he’s reported to have said: I personally agree with everything Gen McChrystal said. I diagree with virtually everything that Pres Obama says, does, thinks, and wants. I also think that Pres Obama should fire Gen McChrystal, before he has an opportunity to resign. The corrosive effects on the officer corps of a four-star general getting away with publicly belittling and criticizing the president will last for a generation. Please note that I did not say: put him in jail, take away his retirement, or tar and feather him. I said “fire him.”

    Some have said that Gen McChrystal is essential to the war strategy. Baloney. No one officer is essential to anything. Especially one with such poor judgement, if he did what he is reported to do. There are other officers who can take command in Afghanistan. Gen Petraeus comes to mind.

    More is at stake here than the miserable leader we have in the White House right now.

  15. Jerry says:

    I agree completely, Gwen.

    If the behavior of Gen. McChrystal and his staff was even remotely close to the way it was reported, there was a _monumental_ lapse of judgment. Their interactions with the reporter were completely inappropriate — even if their opinions had been completely supportive of Obama.

    I find it incomprehensible that a man with Gen. McChrystal’s experience could inadvertently find himself in this position. Which leads me to speculate whether this was done intentionally with the intent of damaging Obama’s credibility. If such was the case, then I believe the punishment should be more severe — far more severe — than being fired.

  16. TonyLayne says:

    I have to agree with Col. Gwen. It’s absolutely essential to unit and service cohesion and discipline that the military leadership remain united behind the civilian leadership, especially when the civilian leadership is filled with dunderheads. The ability of the military to carry out its missions depends on the ability of the leadership to maintain their commands’ faith in the government they serve. When generals criticize the government—no matter how warranted the criticisms are—that faith is eroded, and the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines lose the sense of duty that helps them perform their tasks.

    It’s for much the same reason that I have no sympathy for MacArthur. The only time a soldier is justified in disobeying orders is when those orders demand that he violate the law. This fact may lead to situations such as in Vietnam, where the military’s ability to strike back at North Vietnam was hampered by all sorts of rules. But when soldiers begin to decide they’re no longer bound by civilian-made law, they become a threat to democracy. Truman was right to sack him: no general is that indispensible.

  17. Ed the Roman says:

    Ditto Colonel Gwen.

    And to do this in Rolling Stone? What in the hell was Stan THINKING?

    And pace TJerome, the military is not going to remove the President.

    Ed the Roman, CDR, USN (Ret)

  18. New Sister says:

    Gwen, Jerry, Tony, et al. – I mostly agree w/ you, but not “totally” – GEN McCrystal (& largely his staff) were mistaken, but your assessments are incomplete. Military leaders must subordinate themselves to civilian leadership in everything EXCEPT morality. I do not think they must intend to resign [as Gwen contends] to openly disagree with POTUS & his regime. Genrals should speak the Truth boldly – publicly if necessary – and force the civilian leadership to respond – being, of course, ready to accept the consequences.

    E.g., We find a deplorable example today in ADM Mullen, known by US and foreign military personnel as a “Catholic”, yet who publicly supports POTUS’ “policy goals” of sanctioning sodomy in the military. [this means changing the Uniformed Code of Military Justice - what ADM Mullen recommends is currently illegal, a court-martial offense.] He qualifies his support (before Congress!) by saying “regardless of what I believe personally…” – WRONG! General Peter Pace was/is “what right looks like” – bravely and unapologetically suffering the consequences after speaking the truth. (attacks from the media; being forced to retire by POTUS; etc..)

    This is a bit off the actual topic, but I thought it important to recall that *there are limits* to military subordination to civilian “leadership”.

  19. New Sister says:

    We also need to be careful in saying, “I agree with everything General McCrystal said…” when his & his staff’s language is so profane.

    Military officers’ moral judgment has become darkened by turning a blind eye to a lot of sin, profanity being the most common (and, unfortunately, the most mild…). How far we have fallen; God help us!

    “…The General is sorry to be informed that the foolish, and wicked practice, of profane cursing and swearing (a Vice heretofore little known in an American Army) is growing into fashion; he hopes the officers will, by example, as well as influence, endeavour to check it, and that both they, and the men will reflect, that we can have little hopes of the blessing of Heaven on our Arms, if we insult it by our impiety, and folly; added to this, it is a vice so mean and low, without any temptation, that every man of sense, and character, detests and despises it.”
    - General George Washington,
    Commander of the Continental Army
    August 3rd 1776

  20. momravet says:

    McChrystal – McClellan. Same difference. McClellan got fired and McChrystal should be fired.

    The good general lost me when he said the “new” strategy was to win the “minds and hearts of the people”. Shades of another unwinnable war.

  21. robtbrown says:

    Some have said that Gen McChrystal is essential to the war strategy. Baloney. No one officer is essential to anything. Especially one with such poor judgement, if he did what he is reported to do. There are other officers who can take command in Afghanistan. Gen Petraeus comes to mind.

    That would be a demotion for Petraeus. His next job is either Chairman (or maybe vice) of the Joint Chiefs or Retirement.

    BTW, all but one of the quotes are attributed to aides, not to Gen McC.

    More is at stake here than the miserable leader we have in the White House right now.
    Comment by Gwen

    Obama is a man who really has never faced opposition. He was always well liked, etc.

  22. chironomo says:

    Other than the link to the Tablet above, I haven’t seen anything about McChrystal resigning. It may be true, but I would think that the WH Press would have this by now if it were a done deal. Also watching FOX right now and haven’t heard it come up. Their meeting is scheduled to start in 10 minutes.

  23. Peggy R says:

    Never watched West Wing, but I’d imagine Martin Sheen–or even Hillary would be a better leader–though I’d not vote for Hillary. Hasn’t Sheen imagined himself as JFK ever since he played the deceased president in TV movies?

    I am sure some might think me crazy, but I think even Joe Biden would be a better president and more loyal than O. I actually thought during the many debates running up to the Dem primaries that Biden sounded like the most sensible guy on the dias. Maybe he’s just “got a gift” as O thinks himself to have.

    I pray for our nation and the folks in the Gulf of Mexico these days. It seems like O is waging war on the people of the country that elected him.

  24. irishgirl says:

    Are there any ‘real’ leaders in our country anymore?

    Tell you the truth, I’d pick McChrystal over Obama anyday!

  25. robtbrown says:

    McChrystal – McClellan. Same difference. McClellan got fired and McChrystal should be fired.

    Not really. McClellan was a whiz at training but always claimed that his troops were not yet prepared for combat.

    The good general lost me when he said the “new” strategy was to win the “minds and hearts of the people”. Shades of another unwinnable war.
    Comment by momravet

    That is Counter Insurgency Strategy. There is no Afghan military for the US to defeat.

    But you might be right–it is likely unwinnable.

  26. New Sister says:

    irishgirl – I agree with you, 100%

  27. edwardo3 says:

    The West Wing was a good show until it jumped the shark in the second term and went way left, at least for that time. One of the best scenes was when Bartlett was throwing a hissy fit at God in Latin at the National Cathedral.

    New Sister: I can’t begrudge anyone who gets shot at on my behalf a few colorful metaphors. Sometimes we have to employ such colorful language in order to get our message across…

  28. edwardo3 says:

    Gewn: I completely agree with you.
    New Sister: Have you thought seriously about your position with regard to military personnel being under the civilian authority in all things except morality? Are you prepared to have military commanders enforce their own ideals of morality on civilians by means of force? You should look at the number of military coups in the 20th century and their moral justification by the military. No, if you can’t go alomng with the program set out by the civilian authority, you need to get out, that is your moral statement.

  29. JonM says:

    I agree with Col. ‘Gwen,’ the General should have resigned and then in an orderly manner spoken on what he felt was wrong with the strategy.

    Challenging the commander in chief’s authority means that you are instantly removed. In other times, it meant that you were instantly executed. We as Catholics should appreciate the zealous defense of chain of command for two reasons.

    First, God established governments for our benefit and second, we see precisely the fruits of ‘challenging authority.’ The truth is that in America, only 18% of Catholics regularly go to Mass (regularly as in more than one Sunday a month.) Who knows what they believe and get to experience at Mass….

    Of practicing American Catholic adults 18-35, a paltry less than one third consider marriage ‘any priority.’ European figures are so low, there is no reason to bother assessing them. So, as the hierarchs ‘threw open the shutters’ to ‘dialog’ with the world, and invited the laity to form its own mind on matters of morality, we see public practice and core identity of Catholics wiped away.

    Military organizations are not so accommodating nor are they afforded such leeway because talk about the CIC being a baffoon can rapidly become entire units refusing commands.

    Don’t get me wrong; Mr. Obama is in way over his head and is not, in my view, disposed to manage battle planning. But that is not really the point; rather, the crux of this is how a general (who proudly voted for Barak Obama) chose to approach a problem.

    New Sister has a good point and I think it is getting lost in the notion that a government ‘has to be’ secular. It’s no secret that there are a lot of problems related to basic morality in the military and this has been the case for a while. I challenge anyone to answer in the affirmative that the Virgin Mary would feel comfortable in the company of the average off-duty R&R session. It is something to think about.

  30. Gwen says:

    New Sister:
    Re: profanity. I wasn’t aware of profanity being used; it wasn’t in the reports I heard. I should have assumed it. Thanks for the correction.
    Re: limits to subordination of military to civilian authority. No. I disagree. During the time when a policy is being formulated, an officer may speak publicly and is required to give honest and sound advice to Congress, for example. But once the policy is stated by the civilian leadership, the officer must either implement the policy or resign his commission. You cannot have serving officers, who stay as officers, speaking against the civilian leadership about any matter–not and maintain our constitution. Too many nations have gone that route, and the ends do not justify the means. Plus it gets very ugly very fast.
    Re: removal of DADT and acceptance of open, active homosexuals in the military. I hope that I’d have the moral courage to resign my commission were this to become law while I was on active duty. This policy and law will force every officer and NCO to not only tolerate, but accept and approve homosexual behavior.

    Rotbrown:
    re: Petraeus’ career path. So what, if he thought (or you thought) he was destined to be Chairman or Chief. If “the mission” in Afghanistan is important enough to undermine the principles of civilian control of the military, and keep Gen McChrystal on–isn’t “the mission” more important than Gen Petraeus’ career advancement? Certainly he would subordinate any promotions or job advances to “the mission,” if indeed he were the only officer capable of commanding in Afghanistan. And I cannot believe that the bench of the Army and Marines is so shallow, that among the approx 50 three and four star line officers, none is capable of this command.

    What is the corrosive effect on the priesthood when a bishop is in rebellion against Rome, openly speaks against Church teachings, contradicts the Holy Father, and continues as a bishop?

  31. EXCHIEF says:

    The General had to be replaced for the reasons mentioned by many current and former military posters on this blog. Having said that if the Commander in Chief were more competent this whole issue might have been avoided in the first place. Thank you for your service General. I’m sure your comments and those of your aides, though inappropriate in terms of the good order of the military, reflect how the average member of our military really feels about the CinC.

  32. robtbrown says:

    Rotbrown:
    re: Petraeus’ career path. So what, if he thought (or you thought) he was destined to be Chairman or Chief. If “the mission” in Afghanistan is important enough to undermine the principles of civilian control of the military, and keep Gen McChrystal on—isn’t “the mission” more important than Gen Petraeus’ career advancement? Certainly he would subordinate any promotions or job advances to “the mission,” if indeed he were the only officer capable of commanding in Afghanistan.
    Comment by Gwen

    1. Don’t get carried away. Who said anything about destiny? The Chief of Staff job is at best a lateral from CENTCOM. And it’s not a question of what I believe–I have a friend who was Petraeus’ Chief of Protocal at Ft Leav.

    Petraeus has done Obama (and the US) a favor by accepting a demotion.

    2. It’s not a matter of civilian control. McC’s main problem was with the ambassador. I thought at the time it was a mistake to replace Ryan Crocker.

  33. robtbrown says:

    Re: removal of DADT and acceptance of open, active homosexuals in the military. I hope that I’d have the moral courage to resign my commission were this to become law while I was on active duty. This policy and law will force every officer and NCO to not only tolerate, but accept and approve homosexual behavior.
    Comment by Gwen

    Agree. It also would create problems with housing (esp. with same sex “marriage”) and mandatory social situations. And acc to a friend who is a ret LTG, it would also require changing the UCMJ.

  34. robtbrown says:

    BTW, I think Obama had no choice but to replace Gen McChrystal.

  35. robtbrown says:

    NB: Should be Protocol, not Protocal.

  36. Jordanes says:

    As others have mentioned, Gen. McChrystal’s resignation has been accepted by Pres. Obama, who has named Gen. Petraeus to take charge of the war in Afghanistan:

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jPjd-D4I9aiHfNdUlAOjDc35n3xwD9GH48I00

    It’s regrettable that Gen. McChrystal’s lack of control over his staff put our military and the White House in this pickle (even though what his staffers said was not of itself that dreadful — the AP story is completely erroneous about McChrystal’s “blistering remarks about administration officials quoted in a magazine interview.” The remarks weren’t “blistering,” and only one of the remarks were attributed by the staffers to McChrystal — all the rest of the comments came from his staffers. But then the AP frequently botches stories, especially due to their undisguised Democratic partisanship).

  37. irishgirl says:

    Thanks, New Sister!

  38. Traductora says:

    I never watched “West Wing” because I watch very little TV and this sounded so ravingly liberal I thought it would make my head explode. Well, it sounded sort of like the Clinton WH, ravingly liberal but still within the bounds of a president who was an American citizen.

    However, that said, this whole thing with McChrystal has me very concerned. He wrote the ROE that have hampered our troops and probably caused a lot of US deaths, but at the same time, he probably did so under pressure with the understanding that the powers that be were going to grant more troops…which they did after several months, and only half of the requested number and even that phased in gradually. But McChrystal voted for Obama and I think he probably felt he had to support him and put up with whatever came his way.

    Still, I don’t think his comments were particularly outrageous, and he probably approved the publication of things his staff said (anonymously, of course) because he didn’t want it to look as if he were covering up something or impeding the press. This is unlike his boss, who has no qualms about impeding the press, and curiously, is never criticized by the press for doing so.

    Petraeus was obviously suggested to Obama by whoever actually runs these things (remember, Obama has some old Clintonistas in the Cabinet, and right now he’s too much at sea to seriously oppose them – plus, he wants to go golfing).

    Still, I don’t think this will last long and I think Petraeus is going to bite the dust too. Obama, IMHO, really doesn’t want to win this thing and I think he is fine with the Taliban. But many people here still are not, including many Dems, and I think we’re seeing this conflict play out now.

  39. New Sister says:

    Edwardo – read my post again; you misunderstood it. I disagreed with Gwen’s statement that a general should only disagree publicly as he’s handing in his resignation. On strategic/operational issues, Gwen’s right, and because of that, GEN McCrystal was wrong, and POTUS right to fire him. On morality? *No Way* I don’t want to start a “rabbit hole”, but on morality, Peter Pace was the model: speak the Truth boldly, and let the civil leadership disagree and oust you if they like, but in no way can an officer lend, even tacitly, support to immorality. (REM: General Pace – a Catholic – was ousted by Bush after stating at a press conference, “homosexual acts are immoral, and we shouldn’t support immorality in the military”.)

    This rule applies to all of us — doctors, judges, pharmacists, etc.. We can never support objective evil, regardless of what civil (or military) authority directs. As Catholics we are obligated to stand our moral ground, ready to accept the consequences.

    GWEN! I can’t believe I’m hearing this from a sister in arms! Think Nürnberg trials – legal does *not* make it permissible!! “I’m not guilty; I was just following orders…”

    All of you: evil is never permissible. Obscenities are never necessary in military leadership – heck, you think General Washington’s soldiers didn’t have something to REALLY complain about? He did not allow them to swear, out of fear of offending God. The disgusting level of profanity exhibited by McCrystal & boys (along with various other “we need this to feel good” sins that I won’t specify) will be our military’s un-doing. Do you not think GEN McCrystal & his staff’s vulgarity naturally led them to other sin, like this insubordination? This arrogance?

    Sin weakens the military – period.

    OK – one more time for the record: GEN McCrystal seriously screwed up & was rightly fired. I’m not in any way saying he had moral ground in this recent incident. Rabbit hole closed… I hope! :-)

  40. New Sister says:

    Gwen – my apologies – I see our only difference is I think the officer should stay & get forced out, where you think they should resign before executing immoral policies. I see your point…not sure which is right – I think I’d stay, and take the law suit when I refused to sign, for example, adoption papers for a gay soldier & “partner”, or refuse to invite their “partner” to official events to which wives are invited.

  41. robtbrown says:

    New Sister,

    1. I haven’t read the article, but not all vulgarities are objectively evil.

    2. Not to defend obscenities, but Patton could be a real potty-mouth. In fact, they had to tone him down for the movie. I think Ike could also get ripe.

    3. BTW, saw Peter Pace on C-SPAN (with Barry McCaffrey) and heard what he said the Iraq War. The next day I asked a friend who is a ret 3 star (and daily communicant)–he said what Pace was saying was a crock of BS.

  42. robtbrown says:

    I agree with what Donald Trump says about this matter.

    First, that the General had to go. An organization cannot function properly with such behavior.

    Second, if there is such behavior in an organization, it means that the man on top is doing a poor job running it.

  43. TonyLayne says:

    @New Sister:

    “I think I’d stay, and take the law suit when I refused to sign, for example, adoption papers for a gay soldier & ‘partner’, or refuse to invite their ‘partner’ to official events to which wives are invited.”

    More likely to be a court-martial than a lawsuit. The military is a branch of the executive, and has no choice but to enforce the law as it applies to them. It’s pretty much the same kind of moral quandary faced by defense attorneys and anti-execution judges: If you can’t perform the tasks of your profession with a clean conscience, then it’s better to take up a new profession. Or, as Abraham Lincoln put it, “If you find that you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve at all costs to be honest without being a lawyer.” The only way to keep the military from executing immoral laws is to not pass immoral laws.

  44. New Sister says:

    I believe in banning obscenities in the ranks – in all federal spaces – like we do smoking. So did George Washington. So did U.S. Grant. So do a lot of great leaders, both military and spiritual. I understand the inclination to let “colorful language” slide [McCrystal & team are beyond colorful – they are obscene] because people are getting shot at, but warfare was a lot messier & bloodier in former times where great leaders successfully banned it. The example of Ste Jeanne d’Arc has sold me on this – arguably the greatest general in the history of warfare who changed European History by rooting out vices in her Army. (& getting some help from St Michael…not sure the two are un-related.)

    Perhaps I’ve turned a light-hearted question about a show I had never seen (West Wing) a bit too serious – sorry.

  45. robtbrown says:

    I believe in banning obscenities in the ranks – in all federal spaces – like we do smoking. So did George Washington.
    Comment by New Sister

    Maybe he learned that from the Masons.