“We Can Almost Pre-write the Headlines” (Almost?)

For those who can’t predict what the Washington press corps will write and say on cable if Gen. McChrystal still has his job after this morning’s meeting with President Obama, MSNBC’s Savannah Guthrie gave viewers a preview this morning in this exchange with Morning Joe’s Willie Geist:

GEIST: Does the White House worry about looking weak? After all, this is a pattern we had last fall in London, the speech McChrystal made and summoned to Air Force One in Copenhagen. The memo leaked to the press which put forth publicly McChrystal’s wishes for Afghanistan, how many troops he wanted. Now this. It just it seems to me it’d be tough for them to let another one go by the board.

GUTHRIE: You underscore why this is such an untenable position for President Obama. If he decides to show mercy, if he concludes that for the greater war effort, he lets McChrystal stay, I mean, we can almost pre-write the headlines. Everybody will get out writing their wimp stories and how president Obama doesn’t have that blood instinct to roll heads when it’s called for. They’re certainly sensitive to that being the perception or that somehow, once again, the president has been rolled by the military. I think they are aware of that story line. They would say it’s not going to affect the bottom line, that the president really knows that there is much more at stake here than just a matter of intemperate words from the general. The real issue is, can he still lead? Does he have credibility with the troops below him? What do allies think? The audience is well beyond Washington…

Yes. It is.

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.