It’s not about the general – not exactly. It’s not about insubordination – not entirely. It’s about becoming president – not just by election or inauguration, but in fact. Jack Kennedy did it with the Bay of Pigs, not by agreeing to the operation, but in accepting full personal blame for its failure. That’s when the country knew it had a leader. His job approval shot through the roof. Ronald Reagan became president when he came through that assassination attempt and, of course, as a result of the way he did it: “Honey, I forgot to duck.” It made us happy to see such good, manly manners in our president; too old to be a soldier, he was not too old to take a bullet without once faltering in his command. Now it’s time for President Obama. I have been critical for weeks about the failure to lay down a clear chain of command. Who’s at the top? Who’s in the room when he makes decisions? Who’s the enforcer? I want to know this stuff. I want to be able to see the leadership of my country. I want to know who we’re dealing with when it comes to getting things done – not when it comes to explaining the president, spinning the latest problem, or back-and-forthing it with the Republicans. I want to see the power of this country in action. I want to see this self-government of ours running the show. Nobody reasonable thinks that President Obama shouldn’t go to baseball games with his daughter. That’s partisan stuff from the Republican National Committee. He didn’t cause this oil mess in the Gulf of Mexico. BP did; they’re the bad guys in this piece. But, tomorrow morning, the president’s got some business to do. If our general in Afghanistan has been insubordinate, Obama has to can him, just as Harry Truman did with MacArthur. It may not be the most popular thing he ever did. It may not be the best thing he did – I’d put the Marshall Plan up on that pedestal – but it sure was the most necessary thing he ever did. And it’s one of the reasons that we remember him with such bi-partisan reverence. Whatever that thing is that makes you a great president, we knew Harry had “it” in him.
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