A skillful political leader, faced with embarrassing statements made by a general or political subordinate, has two moves that can work: He can take the high ground and declare. ”It sounds as if General McChrystal has lost his faith in my administration. We haven’t lost our faith in him. He’s the best man for the job–that’s why I picked him. I know the general has been under a lot of stress. I have accepted his sincere apology and he assures me there will be no repetition…”
Or, he can play the tough SOB. ”The general knew the rules when he accepted this assignment. His publicly aired complaints have discouraged morale and undermined our ability to stay the course. He knew he had to leave even before I called him to ask for his resignation..”
Either of these decisions had to be made quickly. Any appearance of vacillation, as in the President summons General McChrystal to the White House, shilly-shallys, then fires him, is an indication of weakness and incompetence. But we already knew that.
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