Conservative Republicans Walk Fine Line On McChrystal Controversy

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June 22, 2010 9:46 a.m.

In response to General McChrystal’s seemingly insubordinate comments about President Obama, Vice President Biden and others, conservatives on the Hill are flirting with the idea of…getting McChrystal’s back. While almost no elected officials, save retiring Rep. David Obey (D-WI) are actively calling for McChrystal’s resignation, members of the GOP’s right flank are walking right up to the line of defending him.

“The thing that’s regrettable is that the whole thing with the magazine was released, because here’s a guy who’s undoubtedly the most qualified person to take on all these difficult things over in Afghanistan,” Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) told reporters this afternoon. “It’s regrettable that it all happened through Rolling Stone, I think that’s the main problem there, and I still can’t figure out how that happened.”

“I know him, I’ve been with him in the field, there’s no one as qualified as he is to run the show in Afghanistan,” Inhofe added.Over in the House, Minority Whip Eric Cantor chalked the whole thing up not to McChrystal’s questionable judgment as an officer serving under civilian rule, but to McChrystal’s (presumably understandable) frustration with the Obama administration.

“Obviously a General and his top brass don’t make statements like these without being frustrated, so I hope that the President’s meeting with General McChrystal will include a frank discussion about what is happening on the ground, and whether the resources and the plan are there to defeat terrorists and accomplish our mission in Afghanistan,” Cantor’s statement reads. “Without question, the article in Rolling Stone raises a lot of concerns, but our top priority must be to ensure that our forces in Afghanistan have what they need in order to successfully execute their mission and win the war there.”

For the most part, Republicans and Democrats are withholding judgment until McChrystal’s meeting at the White House tomorrow. But compare Inhofe’s statement to those of moderate Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). “If in fact he did that, it’s not appropriate and it’s troubling, but General McChrystal is an individual who devoted his whole life to the defense of our country and to public service, and I think it’s only fair to hear his explanation.”

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