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"The Daily Show" takes on the fawning press coverage of Gen. Stanley McChrystal's athletic masculine manliness. David Petraeus got the same loving coverage of his physical fitness regimen, and it strikes me as a genuinely dangerous way to understand these wars: The fact that McChrystal is tough enough and disciplined enough to go running at 4:30 in the morning and visit Afghan markets without a sidearm or a bulletproof vest is not relevant to the questions at hand. But it's made to seem relevant. As if all the past tacticians who saw their careers and countries swallowed by endless engagement in Afghanistan just didn't have a low enough resting heart rate.

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By Ezra Klein  |  October 13, 2009; 1:30 PM ET
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Why are a general's habits, character, charisma and personality irrelevant? Our military leaders do matter, guys that set an example for their troops are better leaders. Troop Fitness is required to do counterinsurgency in a country that has such a rugged geography. The capital is a mile above sea level. Finally, a leader who will take a personal risk in a Kabul marketplace to set an example is less likely to be just another careerist. Careerists do not win wars, or speak truth to power if we can't win them.

Posted by: brenmcaneny | October 13, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Bren said it best. In addition, it would be so wrong to require the rigorous physical discipline called for from the troops, and then have a slack or overweight general. You should be admiring the qualities you spoke of in McChrystal, not sneering at his discipline.

Posted by: truck1 | October 13, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

brenmcaneny, what's mockable here is the fawning coverage of the press on the matter.

Posted by: constans | October 13, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I do not take exception to Daily show mockery. McChrystal does look like an action figure, and that's funny in a TeamAmerica kind of way.

However, Ezra said it doesn't matter. It does. Military tacticians will fail if they do not also have leadership. It's not easy to change the military culture of force protection and firepower to one more suited to CO-IN.

Posted by: brenmcaneny | October 13, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

This kind of coverage is standard with any new leader. Remember all the press attention to Obama playing basketball?

Posted by: tomtildrum | October 14, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

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