The Night Beat: McChrystal's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Good evening. The Night Beat starts with Gen. Stanley "M4'" McChrystal's timeline: arrival Andrews, 23:40 hours.

Tomorrow, arrival, Pentagon: 9:00 am ET for meeting with Defense Secretary Robert Gates. 

At this point, McChrystal does not know when he is going to meet with President Obama. He will learn this tomorrow morning from Gates.


A REPLACEMENT:  So who would replace McChrystal if he is fired? White House "war czar" / adviser Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute is a logical choice.  (Gen. James Mattis? Not likely. Mattis got passed over for the position of Commandant of the Marine Corps...and is very angry about it, and doesn't want to clean up someone else's mess. Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, McChrystal's number two, would also be considered, per the AP.) 

LOW BLOW: Avowed opponents of McChrystal are whispering about the DoD's inspector general's report on abuses at Camp Nama, which McChrystal oversaw as Commander in Chief of the Joint Special Operations Command. It hasn't been released. 

ROLLING STAN (2):
Overlooked in Rolling Stone's article: hints that McChrystal and his team were planning to ask for more troops in July of 2011, when the drawdown of U.S. troops is supposed to have begun. Instead of beginning to withdraw troops next year, as Obama promised, the military hopes to ramp up its counterinsurgency campaign even further. "There's a possibility we could ask for another surge of U.S. forces next summer if we see success here," a senior military official in Kabul tells me

The full Afghanistan strategy review meeting is set for 11:30 a.m. in the situation room. Obama's private meeting with McChrystal (which will probably include the vice president at some point) is TBD. Pointing out that Obama is within his rights to fire McChrystal, his advisers dismiss criticism that any delay in acting puts the mission in jeopardy. Even though the premise of the Rolling Stone article was that McChrystal had sold the administration a bag of glass shards and that the strategy was really an academic exercise -- one guy's war, really -- an official told me that "it's not one person's war. McChrystal's still in command, and nothing changes until it changes." That is, the war doesn't stop. Also, the adviser dismisses the notion that Obama is trying to put McChrystal in his place by allowing him to twist in the wind.

"He really does want to hear what he has to say, and he has not decided what to do at this point." The counter view: "Obama could come out of this as a strong leader. But that also depends on results a year down the line. But if he is to come out of this as a steely leader, he cannot DITHER on this and be a lawyer. HE has to act." The counter-counter view: the White House cares about winning the F$#*@^% war, not anyone's feelings or political opinions. Yes, emotions are raw over there today. NB: Most of Obama's war cabinet wants McChrystal to stay, but they're treading lightly in terms of how they're giving this advice to Obama, framing the decision for him as one alternative to another, appropriate, viable alternative.

WHITE HOUSE LATE NEWS:
The Department of the Interior issued a new drilling moratorium after a judge blocked the first one. And Obama promised an audience of LGBT activists that repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell will happen soon. "Now, the only way to lock this in -- the only way to get the votes in Congress to roll back this policy -- is if we work with the Pentagon, who are in the midst of two wars," he said.

DR. LAURA: Former NEC chair Laura Tyson has the inside track to become the next director of OMB, although the White House is vetting several candidates. An announcement is likely by the end of the month. The selection of Tyson would be a testament not only to her credentials and skills as a communicator, but also to the way that Peter Orszag transformed the job, from behind-the-scenes wonk to front-line policy seller. This White House needs good economic front people, and Tyson is one.

HOLD ON: Sens. Wyden and Grassley will testify before the Senate Rules Committee on a proposal to end secret Senate holds ... though Democrats believe they're close to the 60 votes needed to change the rule, they're also in an awkward spot. A Democratic senator, working with the labor movement, is currently holding up dozens of President Obama's nominees...after a deal between the White House, Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid was reached about the National Labor Relations Board.

BUSINESS BEAT: The Atlantic Business Channel's Daniel Indiviglio notes that the Fed's Open Market Committee meeting concludes Wednesday, at which time we'll get a statement in the afternoon. No change of any significance is expected, but a few months ago many believed we'd have more concrete information on the exit strategy time line by now. But given the problems in Europe, and absence of additional fiscal stimulus by the federal government, monetary policy is likely to stay loose for even longer. At most, we may get some more detail on its plans to sell assets. It would be quite surprising if any of its language about rates changes (i.e. they'll probably say that rates will stay near zero for "an extended period").

In economic news, we'll get the National Association of Realtors new home sales numbers for May. In the first month without a home buyer credit, it probably won't be pretty. Economists expect a 20% fall, but it could be even worse, as existing sales (which weren't yet broadly affected by the credit's absence due to timing) failed to meet expectations (economists thought they'd be up 5%, but they were down 2%), which Indiviglio wrote about today here.

MORE BOOTHBIES: Wired's Noah Shahctman on the glut of former journalists-turned-Pentagon image consultants: "Boothby is one of a handful of former journalists who in recent years became communications aides to top officers and diplomats. USA Today's Dave Moniz now works as a media advisor to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and to other top officers. Time magazine's Sally Donnelly is today a special assistant to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of StaffAdmiral Mike Mullen. The Chicago Tribune's Bay Fang currently works in Afghanistan as a strategic communications advisor to the State Department. David S. Cloud briefly assisted U.S. ambassador to Kabul Karl Eikenberry before returning to journalism; he's now with the Los Angeles Times. Rosa Brooks, a former Times columnist, advises Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy and also serves as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense."

PRIMARIES:  No surprises: Nikki Haley defeated Gresham Barrett for the SC GOP gubernatorial nomination. She'll probably become the state's next governor. An African American, Tim Scott, won the nomination in South Carolina's 1st Congressional District, beating Strom Thurmond's son of all people, the prevailing storyline will be good for the GOP: racial and gender diversity is alive in at least one precinct of the party. Don't make too much of this, though: the GOP is still lily-white. And it's just now beginning to attract (and aggressively recruit) African Americans to run, usually conservative Christian entrepreneurs or veterans.

A better narrative: Haley's future in politics, assuming the affair allegations just go away, and her purifying reform message, a variant of which is being used by successful GOP candidates across the country. (The Club for Growth put a lot of money and energy into South Carolina, too -- don't overlook their contribution.) NB: the very big defeat of Rep. Bob Inglis, the third to be defeated in a primary this cycle. ... Also, NC Sec of State Elaine Marshall won the Senate Democratic run-off; voters ignored the establishment's pleas to chose Cal Cunningham. And, alas for Democrats, they did not get their preferred candidate from Republicans in North Carolina's 8th Congressional District. (Harold Johnson defeat Tim D'Annunzio.) Utah results are TBD.

UPDATE: PER THE AP, THIS MEETING HAS BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL NEXT WEEK.

CLIMATE CHANGE: Tomorrow, President Obama strategizes with Senate Democrats about climate change legislation. There are three approaches on the table: the basic Kerry-Lieberman cap-and-trade approach; the Snowe-Cantwell cap-and-dividend approach; and Sen. Jeff Bingaman's 15% renewable standard, which would not impose a cap on carbon. The White House is leaning towards a hybrid way forward that focuses on renewables this year ... along the lines of the House's climate bill ... and NEXT year attempts to impose carbon caps on SOME sectors, like the utility industry, which would account for about half of all the emission reductions if everyone were regulated. (David Roberts of Grist has a lot more about this proposal here.)
Presented by

Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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