Watching President Obama speak in the Rose Garden yesterday, I was transfixed by the way he finally grasped the staff of stern, paternal, take-charge leadership. What he did in response to civilian vs. military bickering had the substance of presidential timber.
Whatever one may think about the military intervention in Afghanistan or the Rolling Stone piece (click here) about General Stanley McChrystal, no president should allow the public appearance of disunity at the highest levels to persist a moment longer than is practically necessary.
It sends the wrong message to friends, critics, tagalongs and enemies.
Obama knows full well that not everyone agrees with his policy, jot and tittle. As an intelligent man with a sense of humor, he probably even chuckled at some of the juvenile antics of McChrystal and his staff as reported in the magazine — I certainly did.
But, at present, Obama isn't a private citizen with an expansive intellect: he is head of state in a republic that persists in the historical tradition that people in uniform follow the civilian political leadership, do or die.
Everyone needed to know he is willing to bite the bullet and assume the command that we, the people, placed in his able hands.
Among those who needed to see this were voters like me who were disappointed Obama didn't show such mettle to bring about real reform in health and finance.
Obama's alleged friends also needed to see this: from his self-important band of national security staffers in the White House, to the spineless marvels pretending to lead the Democratic Party in Congress, to the men and women in that den of contracting thieves known as the Pentagon.
Include also critics such as such as the Sunday TV talk show second-guessers, the clueless Republicans, the appallingly undereducated tea-partiers and, yes, the self-inflated windbags such as David Brooks and Charles Krauthammer.
Count among the tagalongs the governments of France and Canada, European businesses, bowing Asian "allies" ready to stab in the back anyone who dares expose themselves that way and the leaders of the Israeli client-state who think they can go it alone.
Then there are the enemies, from the obvious ones in the Middle East, such as Al Qaeda and buddies to the enemies of the United States comfortably ensconced within our borders, less obvious but as venomous, such as BP, the oil industry as a whole, the protection racket called the insurance industry and so many others among the few and the corporate.
All take note: President Obama won't take any more childishness.
Still, I would hope Obama can find a quiet place for McChrystal doing the black ops at which he excelled (which match my prescription as explained here).
Also, I do hope that he shows the same mettle in domestic matters where conflict just as deadly as Afghanistan is going on.