Sunday, June 27, 2010

"Tomato, Tomahto, McCaffrey, McChrystal - Let's Call the Whole Thing Off"

"You say 'Tomato,' I say 'Tomahto,'
You say 'McCaffrey,' I say 'McChrystal,' 
'Tomato,' 'Tomahto,' 'McCaffrey,' 'McChrystal,'
Let's call the whole thing off."

Okay, that's not REALLY how the song goes.

But last week's brouhaha involving Gen. Stanley McCrystal reminded The Flying Curmudgeon about another dustup between a President and another Irish-American, U.S. Army general officer, the last time there was a Democrat in the White House.

One day back in 1993 - shortly after William Jefferson Clinton was sworn in as the nation's 42nd president - the Director of Strategic Plans and Policy, and Assistant to the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, (Gen. Colin Powell, Chairman), one Lt.Gen. Barry McCaffrey was strolling along the South Lawn of the White House, in uniform, when a female member of President Clinton's transition team approached.

As a West Point graduate, (Class of 1964), and a highly decorated officer and gentleman, when McCaffrey greeted the young woman in the customary fashion, she is said to have replied, "I don't talk to the military."

This "alleged" incident came on the heels of two other "alleged" Clinton White House imbroglios, one involving Chelsea Clinton's refusal to ride to school with one of the junior officers assigned to the Top Secret, White House basement communications center, when her regular Secret Service driver was unavailable, and the other, the "alleged" attempt by Hillary Clinton to ban military uniforms in the White House. In the first incident, the young Chelsea reportedly rebuffed the young Navy lieutenant with a terse, "We don't like the military in my house." (Gee, where could she possibly have learned something like that?). In the second, in keeping with their general disdain for all things military, Hillary Clinton, again "allegedly," floated the idea of banning military uniforms in the White House. After a predictable back-lash to this monumentally stupid idea, the Clintons denied ever having floated that particular trial balloon in the first place.

In the interest of fairness, a number of left-wing media outlet's have sought to debunk these claims. Among them, the following link is from a article that attempts to do just that.

(Aside: The Flying Curmudgeon cannot speak to Hillary's "alleged" attempt to ban uniforms at the White House. He'll have to let others address that. However, back in 1998, when TFC was still a member of the U.S. Navy Reserves, he attended a Navy school in San Diego, during which one of his fellow classmates confirmed that one of his close friends had been the Navy lieutenant in question, and confirmed the basic gist of the story. Though it's been twelve years, TFC seems to recall that these two officers had served together at the Naval Weapons Station in Dahlgren, Virginia.

To be clear, The Flying Curmudgeon HAS NO INDEPENDENT INFORMATION to corroborate this "alleged" incident. Nevertheless, this classmate from the Navy school TFC attended in 1998 - ironically, during the same time that the Clinton impeachment hearings were being held - was emphatic in the story's telling, and at the time, your humble correspondent had no reason to doubt its veracity. And, should it be necessary, the class roster should be easy enough to obtain, with a list of active and reserve assignments. A cross check of officers assigned to the White House communications center during the period in question, the Naval Weapons Station, Dahlgren, Virginia, and the class roster from FITCPAC, San Diego, California, during Nov/Dec 1998, should produce the necessary name(s) verification.

BTW, another classmate at the time was the chief legislative aide to a senior Republican U.S. senator who has since retired, and should be able to vouch for conversations with your humble correspondent re: this issue, as well as other issues pertaining to his capacity as this Senator's aide, should it be necessary.

The reader will have to take all this for what it's worth.)

Getting back to the topic at hand, in the wake of the above "alleged" incidents, Clinton's closest advisors, including then-Chief of Staff Mack Mclarty, Clinton's childhood friend from Hope, Arkansas, James Carville, and George Stephanopolous knew they needed to do something to quell the rapidly growing rift with the military, before it spun out of control.

In those early days of what would become the first of Clinton's two terms, before the famously undisciplined Mclarty was replaced as White House Chief of Staff by former California Congressman Leon Panetta - who brought a much-needed level of "adult supervision" to the Clinton White House - it was considered "quality time" with the President if one could be scheduled to go jogging with the fast-food loving "Bubba."

So, lo and behold, shortly after the "alleged" South-Lawn dissing, who is Bill Clinton seen jogging with in Vancouver, British Colombia, one morning in April of '93, while Clinton was in Canada for his first face-to-face with Russian Premier Boris Yeltsin?

None other than Lt. Gen. Barry McCaffrey, United States Army.

At the time, The Flying Curmudgeon had said to himself, "Gee, wouldn't it have been interesting to have been a bird perched on a tree limb, as these two came jogging by?" The conversation must have gone something like this:

"General, play ball with me, and in six months when the furor dies down in the press, I'll see that you get your fourth star, and a major command."

Well, as anyone who knows anything about the military is aware, one does not get to flag rank without being able to play the political game. And, as rumors were swirling around at the time, the whole reason McCaffrey had been at the White House in the FIRST place was because he didn't get along with Joint Chiefs Chairman, Gen. Colin Powell. So McCaffrey had been sloughed off to the White House, to serve as a "special liaison" from the JCS.

Smelling an opportunity, and, (as it turned out), being a good, life-long Democrat himself, McCaffrey did what he'd been told, and kept his mouth shut about the whole "alleged" affair. Six months later, just as Bill Clinton had predicted, it was announced in the press that Lt.Gen. Barry McCaffrey would be getting his fourth star and command of U.S. Southern Command in Panama. Next came a job as the head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy: Clinton's Drug Czar. At last report, McCaffrey was enjoying a rather lucrative, post-government career as a consultant for NBC, and as a public speaker.

Fast forward seventeen years.

Another Democrat is now president. And another Army, senior flag-officer with an Irish name finds himself in the center of a political storm.

Following an ill-advised interview with the left-wing Entertainment rag, Rolling Stone, the aforementioned Gen. McChrystal has been relieved of his command as the head of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. In a ramblingly cynical screed - complete with the usual, obligatory profanities, de rigeur for the magazine which has had, in recent years, less to do with music, and more to do with its publisher, Jann Wenner's, increasingly radical, Far-Left politics - the author, Michael Hastings, shows his gratitude for the exclusive access he was granted by Gen. McChrystal and his staff by writing the following:

The next morning, McChrystal and his team gather to prepare for a speech he is giving at the École Militaire, a French military academy. The general prides himself on being sharper and ballsier than anyone else, but his brashness comes with a price: Although McChrystal has been in charge of the war for only a year, in that short time he has managed to piss off almost everyone with a stake in the conflict. Last fall, during the question-and-answer session following a speech he gave in London, McChrystal dismissed the counterterrorism strategy being advocated by Vice President Joe Biden as "shortsighted," saying it would lead to a state of "Chaos-istan." The remarks earned him a smackdown from the president himself, who summoned the general to a terse private meeting aboard Air Force One. The message to McChrystal seemed clear: Shut the fuck up, and keep a lower profile.

The funny part of the above is the fact that, prior to this meeting, according to McChrystal himself, President Obama had spent exactly 10 minutes with his top general for Afghanistan, in a meeting one of McChrystal's aides characterized as a "photo op."

A few sentences later, Hastings writes:

When Barack Obama entered the Oval Office, he immediately set out to deliver on his most important campaign promise on foreign policy: to refocus the war in Afghanistan on what led us to invade in the first place. "I want the American people to understand," he announced in March 2009. "We have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan." He ordered another 21,000 troops to Kabul, the largest increase since the war began in 2001.

What Hastings FAILS to mention in this attempt to make Obama appear tough is the fact that the 30,000 troops he EVENTUALLY agreed to send were 10,000 fewer than McChrystal had requested, and then, only after months and months of dithering over the decision. Dithering no doubt engaged in, as Obama and his Chicago consiglieres attempted to gauge the potential fall-out from their left-wing base, prior to rendering a decision.

If it weren't so tragic for our nation, and disastrous for those in harm's way, it would almost be funny to watch another Democrat president twist in the wind, as he struggles to reconcile a deep-seated revulsion for - and lack of interest in - foreign affairs and all things military, and his responsibilities as Commander-in-Chief. Michael Dukakis wearing a helmet, and sitting in a tank, anyone?

The whole sorry affair begs the question, just how many U.S. troops died needlessly, while Obama vacillated in making a decision?

Shades of LBJ choosing targets in Vietnam? Hmmm?
"Hey! Hey! LBJ. How many kids did you kill today?"

Perhaps an updated version might go something like this:
"Hey! Hey! Barack Obama. How many caskets d'ya send home to Mama?"

More from Hasting's piece:

In March, McChrystal traveled to Combat Outpost JFM – a small encampment on the outskirts of Kandahar – to confront such accusations from the troops directly. It was a typically bold move by the general. Only two days earlier, he had received an e-mail from Israel Arroyo, a 25-year-old staff sergeant who asked McChrystal to go on a mission with his unit. "I am writing because it was said you don't care about the troops and have made it harder to defend ourselves," Arroyo wrote.

Within hours, McChrystal responded personally: "I'm saddened by the accusation that I don't care about soldiers, as it is something I suspect any soldier takes both personally and professionally – at least I do. But I know perceptions depend upon your perspective at the time, and I respect that every soldier's view is his own." Then he showed up at Arroyo's outpost and went on a foot patrol with the troops – not some bullshit photo-op stroll through a market, but a real live operation in a dangerous war zone.

After reading the entire piece, the first thing that popped into TFC's head was, "What the HELL were you guys thinking? Rolling Stone? Are you serious? How could you guys, admittedly some of the "best and the brightest" our country and military has to offer, have been so unbelievably tone-deaf as to agree to letting a guy like Hastings tag along?

They might as well have given an interview to the Village Voice, for crying out loud.

For someone as accomplished and politically astute as McChrystal obviously is, one would have thought he understood the chance he was taking allowing a reporter from such an avowed left-wing publication as Rolling Stone to "embed" with he and his staff. Someone on that staff obviously failed to do his due diligence where Hastings was concerned. Did anyone even bother doing a Google search for any of his previous work?

Apparently not.

What, then, COULD he have been thinking? Was it arrogance? Hubris? A combination of the two?

Then again, as he admitted in the article, McChrystal voted for Obama. Though he doesn't get into his political beliefs aside from the fact that he "pulled the lever" for Obama for President, maybe he is as staunch a Democrat as Gen. McCaffrey, and had designs on a post-government career akin to McCaffrey's, when he finally retired from the Army.

(TFC will make a prediction here. That retirement just got a whole lot closer.)

Maybe this is payback for helping to inflict Obama on the rest of us who DIDN'T vote for him.

Who knows?

The sad part of this story - which was also true of Gen. McCaffrey and Bill Clinton two decades ago - is that regardless his personal politics, Gen. McChrystal served his country with great distinction for thirty years, and the truth remains, the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is not worthy to shine his shoes.

It's an unfortunate confluence of fate and politics - and a strong argument for requiring some kind of American History/Civics test prior to allowing people to vote - that such utterly unqualified men like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, who disdain everything that the uniform of the United States military represents, should ever be allowed to be Commander in Chief.

Every generation or so, we are reminded how dangerous it is when a Democrat is elected President. In the past, we've always been able to recover from the damage they've inflicted before it's too late.

With the unbelievable amount of damage Barack Hussein Obama has managed to inflict on this wonderful country in less than two years - both on the domestic and foreign policy fronts - The Flying Curmudgeon fears that this time, it might be too late.

God save the United States of America.


No comments: