Watching Hardball tonight, it’s a little remarkable to me that the lead story is that Obama said that as Commander in Chief he would be in charge of the military.
Chris Matthews, Andrea Mitchell and Howard Fineman are all acting like they’re stunned that Obama would assert civilian control over the military and not blindly follow what the Generals want to do. Obama makes a pretty mundane point about how the job of a president is different from that of a general and how a president has to look at the bigger picture and set priorities, and the press acts like this is radically new.
Part of this is the damage that McCain and Bush have done by basically abdicating their Iraq policy to the “commanders on the ground.” Bush and McCain have always said, as a dodge to avoid taking political responsiblity, that they will bring troops home when “commanders on the ground” say they should come home. That is dangerous in that it undermines the idea that civilian leaders set military policy and strategy, leaving it to the generals to implement the policies set by the civilian leaders.
The fact that MSNBC finds it newsworthy that Obama would possibly do something other than exactly what the generals want is disturbing. Imagine the shock that this idea would elicit after another 8 years of this attidute emanating from the White House.