The McChrystal situation places President Obama in an incredibly difficult situation. By almost any measure, public insubordination of this level demands he be fired. A president just loses too much face if something like that isn’t clearly punished. And if he’s not it will legitimize what amounts to a culture of insubordination. At the same time, firing McChrystal now would completely upset the president’s Afghanistan policy at a critical moment — and it’s a policy the White House seems to believe is going well.
(Steve Clemons says he should be fired, period.)
Behind this though, remember, there’s a major policy division over the direction of our policy in Afghanistan. And this blow up is only a manifestation of that deeper fight.
Look for a key tell in how Secretary Gates responds to these developments. More shortly.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.