Fire McChrystal? A Test For Obama
WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) - Gen. Stanley McChrystal's forced return from Afghanistan Wednesday to explain embarrassing comments about President Obama and his top advisers could hardly come at a worse time.
A spring offensive against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan is moving slower than expected. The promised effort to retake Kandahar, the country's second-largest city, will take longer than initially forecast. Attacks on U.S. and coalition troops are setting records each month, and June is on track to be one of the bloodiest months for Americans in the 9-year-old war.
With an out-of-control oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and stubborn unemployment numbers, Obama "doesn't need another distraction," says Larry Jacobs, a University of Minnesota political scientist.
"Obama's got so many things going wrong," he says. "This is not a good time for Obama to be at war with the armed services."
Presidential historian Fred Greenstein of Princeton agrees that Obama will take heat either way, but "the criticism will be greater if he fires him, given that the story broke with an apology."
While many military experts say McChrystal has to go, most political reaction from Congress was to wait until today's meeting. Politicians in both parties deferred to the White House.