General Stanley McChrystal's special ops mentality, which can tolerate loose structure within a fighting "band of brothers," got a big jerk on the chain from the real top dog today.
Score one for the Commander in Chief. Zip for "Team America," the moniker borrowed from "South Park" that some of the general's staff used to describe their us-against-the-world mentality.
Whatever anarchic, bust-the-rules, make-it-up-as-you-go-along, ADD demographic the general's interview was designed to recruit has now been told in clear terms: "You're in the Army now." Don't enlist thinking you are going to freelance it.
It will be interesting to see how this newfound discipline will trickle down from President Obama to his political staff. Much has been made of Obama's love for Doris Kearn Goodwin's book about the Lincoln presidency, Team of Rivals, which used competition among staff to form policy. Perhaps today that approach found its limits.
When the president is focused, there's no one who can beat him for political hardball. But it seems to take an external crisis to get this president's attention--which wastes time and energy in response. But there is no time to waste on addressing problems like unemployment, the Gulf oil blowout, Wall Street fraud, and improving health care. That's why we need leadership.
Barack Obama as president reminds me of the racehorse Seabiscuit, who only ran his best when against the fiercest competition. The president needs a chief of staff who can set the pace for him and keep him in tip-top performance, like the star athlete he is. Show us your best game now, Mr. President, not just when you see a challenger in your peripheral vision.
Give it to McChrystal, he got the president's attention--and if there's success to be had in Afghanistan, it will be in part because of the shake-up McChrystal caused.
Now the president needs to take care of "South Park" in the White House.