Handy apology tips for McChrystal's meeting with Obama
By Alexandra Petri
Gen. McChyrystal, after your "misguided" remarks to Rolling Stone, you have been summoned to meet with President Obama and explain yourself. Having been summoned to the principal’s office a few times, I am an expert at explaining my way out of these things, so here's my advice as you head in for your big meeting!
Tell him the “mainstream media” distorted your remarks. “Sure, that’s what we said,” you can say, “but listen to what they left out.” Then go through the article, bit by bit.
"Biden?" suggests a top adviser. "Did you say: Bite Me?"
You: Years of shouting loudly about how much I respect Vice President Biden have damaged my hearing. I would never speak ill of that man. I am training a dog so that whenever anyone makes disparaging remarks about Joe Biden, it bites that person on the leg, no questions asked.
The biggest military operation of the year -- a ferocious offensive that began in February to retake the southern town of Marja -- continues to drag on, prompting McChrystal himself to refer to it as a "bleeding ulcer."
You: Sure, it’s a bleeding ulcer, but only in the sense that it’s something technology has equipped us to handle easily and efficiently with minimal damage to civilians! My uncle had a bleeding ulcer once, and he’s fine now.
One aide calls Jim Jones, a retired four-star general and veteran of the Cold War, a "clown" who remains "stuck in 1985."
You: You have to understand, this aide loves clowns.
And when he says “stuck in 1985,” he means in the sense that 1985 was a great year for America, when we were strong and prosperous and Jim Jones was in his prime. This is a convoluted way of saying that Jim Jones is an exceptionally competent man.
At one point on his trip to Paris, McChrystal checks his BlackBerry. "Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke," he groans. "I don't even want to open it." He clicks on the message and reads the salutation out loud, then stuffs the BlackBerry back in his pocket, not bothering to conceal his annoyance.
You: Holbrooke’s emails are so thoughtful that whenever I read them, I know I’ll want to change my strategy to accommodate his views. It’s kind of a hassle, though. Also, I usually wait to read them until I’m in a private setting where I can laugh, cry and do whatever else these beautiful missives move me to do. They’re really less e-mails than they are poems. E-poems.
McChrystal thought Obama looked "uncomfortable and intimidated" by the roomful of military brass. Their first one-on-one meeting took place in the Oval Office four months later, after McChrystal got the Afghanistan job, and it didn't go much better. "It was a 10-minute photo op," says an adviser to McChrystal. "Obama clearly didn't know anything about him, who he was. Here's the guy who's going to run his [expletive] war, but he didn't seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed."
You: I apologize, Mr. President.
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