We've all done it. Said things we didn't mean or at least shouldn't have said out-loud. Sometimes in the midst of apology we find ourselves saying something like, "I don't know what came over me," as if temporarily possessed. And very often we are--in that the tirade has the effect of an ego pumped with steroids and alcohol--leaving few unscathed in the aftermath.
Such is the case with General Stanley McChrystal who gave his ego free reign in an interview with Michael Hastings published this week in Rolling Stone Magazine and who is now experiencing a hangover.
What is interesting about the interview is that apart from criticizing and disparaging everyone from his boss, President Obama and the Vice President to Richard Holbrooke--and anyone with a French last name--McChrystal's ego rants don't seem very 'general like.'
In fact, it is difficult to imagine the words spoken don't belong to a jacked up first semester frat boy who has discovered his new status affords him all the girls he can handle and suffers from the delusion that his 'winning streak' will never end.
As expected, there is a firestorm brewing over whether or not McChrystal should be fired or forced to resign. Many are screaming foul play and claiming the Obama Administration is hyper-sensitive and over reacting to a little criticism. Really?
McChrystal told Rolling Stone Magazine--not The Mayberry Courier--that Obama (his boss) was unprepared to be president and that Obama was intimidated by the military brass; that General Jones, the National Security Adviser, is a "clown;" and jokes that he (McChrystal) doesn't even want to read Richard Holbrooke's emails. When asked about Vice President Biden McChrystal says "Who's that?"
And as if on cue, one of his fraternity brothers (a "top" aide) replies: "Did you say: Bite Me?"
What is more interesting than McChrystal's ego tirade is the question: what would allow him to believe that he could publicly disrespect and denigrate the President (his Commander in Chief)--which flies in the face of military protocol--without consequence?
Why did he feel it was acceptable to speak in such a demeaning way about his boss and not compromise his credibility or jeopardize his position?
And one can't help but wonder if Barack Obama were white, would McChrystal have made the assumption that he could defy military protocol by undermining the Commander in Chief and remain above the fray? Surely he understands better than most the significance of at least "presenting" a united front to the world.
In fairness to General McChrystal, very few humans can resist performing for the camera or a reporter. In fact, the very act of being interviewed is something the ego revels in. Was he more flippant and arrogant than normal because he was delirious with the attention and the knowledge that his insight and perspective would be published for all the world to see?
In spite of his frat boy vernacular, General McChrystal is highly educated and has a higher IQ than one would assume from the article. Certainly he knew better.
Regardless of his personal feelings for President Obama, the Vice President and the endless stream of those McChrystal deems incompetent or annoying, it is clear from his apology that in a sober moment he wishes he hadn't spoken out of turn. "I extend my sincerest apology for this profile. It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened," McChrystal explained in a Pentagon statement.
McChrystal helps underscore for all of us the reason he should step down. Apart from the Rolling Stone interview, his 'poor judgment' has been after all, the major point of contention with Obama--and many on both sides of the aisle--for quite some time.
The careless words spoken in an interview are a mere reflection of his actions and point to deeper and more disturbing issues. Lashing out at everyone in his path, McChyrstal's judgment appears symptomatic of someone in the throes of self-sabotage--both inebriated and perhaps wrecked by years of conflict and war.
To his credit, in saying it "should have never happened," McChrystal has temporarily wrestled his ego and ordered it to ride in the back seat.
But if past is prologue, McChrystal's blabbers remorse is only temporary and before long, the general will be riding shot gun while his ego steers him on the speaking circuit with a book deal and a talk show--on a network that can't resist his anti-Obama charm.