About AJ DiCintio
A.J. DiCintio is a Featured Writer for The New Media Journal. He first exercised his polemical skills arguing with friends on
the street corners of the working class neighborhood where he grew up.
Retired from teaching, he now applies those skills, somewhat honed and
polished by experience, to social/political affairs.
Liberals Expose Themselves (And It's a Good Thing)
Epidemic of Foot-in-Mouth
Borders, Polls & Statistics Schmatistics
Blowing Up a Pornographic Boycott
Looking Like Europe
Bombs & The English Language
Slouching Toward Columbia & Belgium
Washing Out Dirty Mouths
Dangerous, Unbeautiful Nanny
Damned Lies & Statistics
Is Method in Obama's Healthcare Madness
Perverse Financial Elites
Flying Under the Radar
Obama: No JFK
Massachusetts: Vote! For God's Sake, Vote!
Cowardice, Expediency, Language & Liberals
Tax & Principles
Christmas Times Four
Snake in the Grass
Narrative & Afghanistan
Prostitution & The Healthcare Bill
That Killed at Fort Hood
Who Are the Know-Nothings?
All the Tomatoes!
It's Not a
War Against FOX News
Hope) We’re Not Gonna Take It Anymore
Hyperpartisanship, Propaganda & Hypocrisy
& Sherman's Legacy
Epistemology, Materialists & Morality
the Stench of the Stable
Shameful Education Affair
Reform: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
(Audaciously Arrogant) Mob
The Boiled Frog
the Last Cow Has Come Home
and The Big Hate
Jefferson: Don’t Question a Supreme Court Nominee Without Him
The McChrystal Affair
June 25, 2010
Every president should expect to be awakened with news that a volcano has blown
a bit of hell into the sky, whether it's a volcano whose rumblings and foul
puffs have long been shaking and stinking a warning; one whose frightful
explosion takes everyone by surprise; or one that never before existed but
suddenly, from a fissure in a peaceful cornfield, blasts itself into a menacing
Of course, this volcanic imagery serves as a metaphor for profound problems in
all their terrible unpredictability, a reality which comes to mind today because
too many people are wringing their hands that the McChrystal Affair represents a
huge problem unfairly laid upon a president who is besieged by a mountain range
of volcanoes exclusively bequeathed to him by the previous resident of the Oval
Office (a tiresome example of doublethink and doublespeak that Obama lays upon
an increasingly angered public in every speech he gives, even if it's a speech
about the consequences of a breakout of spots on the face of the star we call
The truth is, however, that the affair doesn't even represent a hot spring of a
problem for the president, as revealed by Lincoln's example in such an instance,
which has been brought to light by Doris Kearns Goodwin (NYT).
So, what did Lincoln do after he, Secretary of State Seward, and an aide waited
an hour at the home of General George McClellan, only to have the general return
from his duties, pass by the parlor where the president was patiently sitting,
and climb the stairs, leaving the Commander-in-Chief to be informed half an hour
later that McClellan "had gone to sleep."
What did one of greatest presidents do after an unrepentant McClellan often
referred to him as the "original gorilla," dismissed members of his cabinet as
"some of the greatest geese I have ever seen,” and mocked Seward as "a meddling,
officious, incompetent little puppy”?
According to Goodwin, Lincoln responded to the anger of Seward and members of
Congress by saying he would "hold McClellan’s horse...if a victory could be
Abraham Lincoln knew, therefore, that McClellan's mouth was not a volcano of a
problem but winning the war was.
And only when Lincoln "finally lost faith in his commander’s commitment to the
mission, his fighting spirit and his ability to prosecute the war to ultimate
victory" did he give McClellan the hook.
Goodwin ends the story there, but it occurs to me that the firing led to Grant's
appointing William Tecumseh Sherman commander of the armies of the Mississippi.
The rest, as they say, "is history."
That history also records that in Sherman, Lincoln didn't get the kind of man
who shivered at the thought of speaking his mind.
It was Sherman who warned the nation, politicians particularly, that "Every
attempt to make war easy and safe will result in humiliation and disaster."
And it was Sherman who in three simple words explained what war is and must be —
the "limited war" alternative advanced by arrogant, smaller minds that include
Truman (Korea), Johnson (Vietnam), Bush (Iraq), and Obama (Afghanistan)
Sherman also did the nation the great favor of speaking the truth about
"In our Country...one class of men makes war and leaves another to fight it
"If forced to choose between the penitentiary and the White House for four
years, I would say the penitentiary, thank you."
In fact, Sherman found the political "profession" so repugnant he uttered these
memorable words when confronted with the possibility of the kind of roaring
draft that leaves most politicians drooling:
"If nominated, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve."
Finally, Sherman was absolutely clear about who has the final military word
under the Constitution.
However, when it came time to say something about his allegiance to a brother in
arms, he didn't align himself with the president but, with his usual blunt
honesty, said this:
"Grant stood by me when I was crazy, and I stood by him when he was drunk, and
now we stand by each other."
The bottom line, then, about Kearns' "What Would Lincoln Do?" is that as a great
wartime president, Lincoln understood and never allowed himself to be distracted
from his duty.
Which brings us back to the notion that the McChrystal Affair is no volcano for
However, the president's Afghanistan policy is — and of Krakatoan proportions,
because when he sent 17,000 additional troops to that nation, he claimed the war
"has not received the strategic attention, direction and resources it urgently
requires" only to define those terms by directing his generals and, more
importantly, the precious soldiers who put their lives on the line, to fight
according to the principle of "courageous restraint."
That contemptibly insulting term says it all about the Pollyannaish war policy
of a president who thinks his degree from the Chicago Political Machine entitles
him to dismiss the thinking of great warriors who knew that a nation should go
to war only when it absolutely must and that when it must, it should fight
according to the dictum that "war is hell."
It also says it all about why the volcano called Afghanistan is certain to play
a very big part in exploding Obama's presidency.