Monday, June 28, 2010

You Knew It Was Going to Happen...

...and, I'm surprised it took as long as it did.

General Stanley McChrystal got fired last week as leader of the war in Afghanistan.  President Obama gave McChrystal the boot after the general and his staff said some unwise things in a Rolling Stone article.

It was just a matter of time before the general's inner circle started blaming Rolling Stone and the article's author, Michael Hastings.  It was all laid out in print in a Saturday morning Washington Post story.

I don't care what the ground rules were.  What was on the record and what was off the record was irrelevant.  Even if Hastings is the most moral and upstanding individual on the planet, General McChrystal was stupid.  If you're smart enough to run a war, you should be smart enough to keep your yap shut.  Maybe he was a bit too trusting.  It's too late now.

We've all learned this lesson the hard way, and I'm surprised it took General McChrystal so long.

I saw some of my contemporaries burned by a slimey newspaper reporter several years.  Things were said in casual conversation, just a little industry gossip between some people covering the courthouse.  It wound up in print.  She tried to get me once.  I didn't fall for it.  I got lucky.

This is not an overall indictment of my print brethren.  Most are good and decent people.  I've seen broadcasters do much worse.

Have I been hurt by people I thought were my friends?  Sure.  We've all been down that road.  You survive. You live.  More importantly, you learn.  Ben Franklin once said that three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead.

That might be a bit severe.   Legal disclaimer:  I do not advocate homicide.  The last time I checked, it's against the law.

As I wrote here Friday, you have to look at a person's body of work before passing judgement.  McChrystal made a mistake, a big one.  I just have to wonder how he'll be remembered in history.   It's a stellar career marred by errors we've all made.