The McChrystal BFD

The piece, set for release Friday, calls McChrystal "The Runaway General.” Well, he's crawling away from Afghanistan, back to D.C. He has been jerked back after accomplishing what many thought was impossible. Apparently the article, with all its contemptuous quotes about damn near the entire national security team, has made the president — dare I say it? — ANGRY! He's so mad that his press guy won't even rule out the possibility that McChrystal will be fired.

It won't be hard to spot Gen. McChrystal on the way to his White House grovel. He'll be the guy in the perfectly pressed uniform with the red face above all those stars on his shoulder. As for firing him , the president will have a balancing act to perform here.

On the one hand, this won't be the first time McChrystal has been borderline-insubordinate with him. The last time, we can recall, Obama yanked him from London to Copenhagen so he could be pictured getting the "Let's Remember Who's Commander-in-Chief" lecture. Apparently, it didn't take. Add to that the fact that things are not going all that well in Afghanistan, and some in this administration might regard this less as a crisis than an opportunity to toss the guy overboard

On the other side of this double-edged sword, cutting him loose would mean getting rid of the guy who developed the master plan for Afghanistan the president has chosen to follow just as it goes into high gear. Besides, McChrystal seems to be about the only person in the U.S. government these days who gets along well with the country's president, Hamid Karzai, and doesn't consider him a dangerous cuckoo-bird.

As important as all that, there is also the Douglas MacArthur-Harry Truman lesson. MacArthur was another big Mac, with an ego to match, who as U.N. commander in Korea, in 1951, unleashed his own criticisms of the president and his policies. Truman didn't wait long. Very quickly Gen. MacArthur became the FORMER U.N. commander and, just as quickly, the wildly popular general (he had been a World War II hero) became a martyr. The firestorm brought all the Truman-haters out of the woodwork and did serious damage to the administration.

The Obama-haters are already out of the woodwork. He doesn't need to bring McChrystal to the tea party. So maybe the bigger deal for Obama is to deliver the message that his peeps can't roll over him, any more than the BP peeps could. That's why he dragged them to the Oval Office last week to deliver a $20 billion message to them and remind them of their obligations to the "small people" who populate the Gulf of Mexico region.

The "small people" are a big deal, and this is too. It's hard to see how McChrystal can stay, since the article guarantees he'd be perceived as working for people he obviously doesn't respect. So don't be surprised if he is relieved of his command and perhaps put in charge of the crews cleaning up tar balls on Louisiana beaches.

One thing’s for certain: The White House will be Action Central. Don't bet on the president inviting in C-SPAN for these meetings, but every glimpse we get will be must-see TV, from the moment McChrystal slinks in. This, as Vice President "Bite Me" would say, truly is a big ... oh, never mind, you get the picture.


Visit Mr. Franken's website at www.bobfranken.tv.