Despite GOP Support for Obama’s Handling of McChrystal/Petraeus, a Few Challengers Dissent
Even though virtually all congressional Republicans — including the party’s Senate and House leadership — praised President Obama’s handling of the removal of Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his selection of Gen. David Petraeus to replace him as commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, a few Republican congressional hopefuls used the events as an opportunity to criticize his foreign policy.
Florida Iraq War veteran Allen West (R), who is running against Rep. Ron Klein (D-Fla.), called Obama’s handling of the situation “immature.” He said, “I really do think it’s a very tragic thing that Gen. McChrystal was released. When I go back in history and look at some of the confrontations between American generals and American presidents, this is a very minor thing.” West, whom Sarah Palin endorsed as an “American hero” on her Facebook page, had a tenure in Iraq that wasn’t without its own share of drama.
Meanwhile, former Colorado Lt. Governor Jane Norton, who is running for the Senate seat currently held by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), used the occasion to take a few swipes at President Obama’s foreign policy in a press release:
Major strategic grievances shouldn’t be aired in Rolling Stone, but General McChrystal was dead right on one critical and alarming point: the Obama Administration’s foreign policy drips of inconsistency, timidity, and lack of a will to win. The Obama Administration is committed to a withdrawal date, not to victory. General Petraeus was an unquestionably shrewd choice, and the fate of the war in Afghanistan and the broader War on Terror hangs on whether he can convince the White House to show real resolve and steel in prosecuting this fight. Let’s hope this move sharpens the White House’s focus on implementing a strategy to win.
The response from Republicans in Congress couldn’t be more different. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) — who earlier justified McChrystal’s comments in Rolling Stone by saying the general must be “frustrated” with Obama — supported the president’s decision and said it was “his alone.” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on “Good Morning America” Thursday, “It’s completely understandable why the president made the decision that he did, based on the civilian-military relationship that goes a long way back.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said, “There are lines you cannot cross in the military. … David Petraeus is our best hope.”
Gen. Petraeus is expected to win easy Senate confirmation next week for his new role as top commander in Afghanistan.