So what did McChrystal say to get in so much trouble? Actually, it was mostly comments by his unnamed aides -- dismissing top senators, calling Ambassador Richard Holbrooke "a wounded animal," and describing McChrystal as unimpressed with Obama's grasp of the Afghan War. For good measure, McChrystal also mocked Joe Biden on the record, and told Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings he felt "betrayed" by top ambassador Karl Eikenberry.
And more than just incendiary quotes, the article portrayed a climate of open disdain for civilian leadership by McChrystal and his inner circle, as Steve Clemons and others have pointed out.
McChrystal has now reportedly offered his resignation -- but it's not clear whether President Obama will accept. Defense Secretary Bob Gates, an all-important player in deciding the general's future, released a statement Tuesday calling out McChrystal for a "significant mistake." The reaction to McChrystal's comments in Congress ranged from bitter condemnation -- Dave Obey (D-WI) called him "reckless" and "a damn fool" -- to blaming Obama for making the general frustrated (see this from Republican Eric Cantor).
No one is questioning the accuracy of Rolling Stone's (thoroughly fact-checked) reporting. But an entirely new set of questions were raised about McChrystal's judgment when Hastings, the reporter, revealed that some of his interviews with the general and his team were conducted on a booze-fueled bus ride across Europe, under the cloud of ash from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano.
The drama over McChrystal dissing the administration has also overshadowed the broader, more ominous conclusions of the Rolling Stone article. McChrystal's chief of operations, Maj. Gen. Bill Mayville, told the magazine of the Afghan war: "It's not going to look like a win, smell like a win or taste like a win. This is going to end in an argument. This is going to end in an argument."