The modern world is full of mousetraps to be sure, especially for honorable men and women who have spent a career putting themselves in harm's way to gain experience for leadership. This is especially true in the military where the sacrifices of a lifetime of service can be trashed by political operatives who have been elevated to power by nothing more than B.S.
We are reminded of a line from the movie "Patton" where a staff member had informed a German General that Patton had been sidelined in the war because of comments he had made to the press. The German General responded by saying it was inconceivable that the Allies would deprive themselves of one of their best field commanders simply because of what he had said to reporters. He dismissed the thought as ridiculous and concluded that the rumor about General Patton was at most a strategy intended to make the German General Staff believe he had been sidelined.
In the case of General McChrystal we see what is really important to the current Commander in Chief. It is "perception" and politics not competency and performance. He could have stepped in front of the situation and said that he would never allow the nation to lose a brilliant Field Commander over what could have been classified as "media claptrap." Of course, the New York Times and other outlets would have flayed him over allowing the military to criticize politicians. They would have pointed out that the military must be subservient to the "elected leadership," and we would agree. But what McChrystal did was not an official act of defiance. He didn't stand before Congress and badmouth Obama's plans to fight the war in Afghanistan... in fact he said he "officially" agreed with them! The Defense Dept. should now limit information to official press releases and cite national welfare, the exigencies of war and the McChrystal incident as justification. No more media in the field, period!
What happened was a left wing reporter from a left wing publication repeated some off the record conversations he heard over a relatively long period of time from some of McChrystal's staff people. The media wanted to prove to their left wing constituency that they could bring down a high ranking General so they published the remarks. A REAL Commander In Chief would have brushed the article aside and made it clear that he would not sacrifice the best interest of the country or send a bad message to all who contemplate a military career by acting on information received from an obviously biased reporter and his publication. The total lack of military experience and, in fact, experience of almost any kind, of the current Commander in Chief shows through this (and so much else) like a huge void. Militarily, only the depth of the Long Grey Line from West Point and the other military academies and the dedication of our troops and many Americans remain in our favor. No question, that's a big PLUS!
Here is a link to a New York Times article that, wisely, does not treat General McChrystal's demise as a "triumph" for Rolling Stone Magazine but it also makes sure the reader understands the "weight" of the media.