Gen. Stanley McChrystal isn’t the only person who was worried about losing his rank this week. But thanks to an explosive Rolling Stone profile that changed the political conversation in Washington, McChrystal is likely to be the only one who actually does.
TPM put together a list of the people who just might be thankful for the McChrystal mess, even if they only have a brief reprieve from their own nasty headlines.
1. Rep. Joe Barton
Last week was a rough one for Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), who thanks to his apology to BP, faced an angry Republican caucus which had planned to meet about his fate as ranking Republican on the Energy and Commerce committee today. But another meeting down Pennsylvania Avenue between President Obama and McChrystal has captured D.C.’s attention. Since the McChrystal profile surfaced before dawn on Tuesday, Barton’s job has been looking more and more safe, and the GOP decided this morning he’ll keep it.
Barton told CongressDaily that, “I have not been asked to and I don’t plan to be asked,” to step down.
Republican aides on the House side conceded privately they were relieved by the McChrystal flap, especially since Democrats put a second Barton ad on television since the first one was such a fundraising boost for the party.
2. Tony Hayward
Next there’s BP’s Tony Hayward, whose role at the company changed last week following a series of unfortunate comments about the oil spill. He spent his weekend at a yacht race, earning him even more bad press that might just have dominated the week.
(If there’s a silver lining to the McChrystal trainwreck for the White House, it’s that the oil spill didn’t dominate cable news for the first time in weeks.)
From the White House perspective, this is the first time in weeks there has been little talk about the oil spill, which is still gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.
3. Republicans on the ballot
GOP candidates hammered over Barton, big oil and blundering Senate candidates Sharron Angle (R-NV) and Rand Paul (R-KY) in recent days also were off the hook for a respite. Angle in particular has had a rough stretch since capturing the party’s nomination to challenge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D). It seemed like every day a new story exposing Angle’s ties to various groups or previous positions would surface, putting her fledgling campaign on the defensive.
But this week, big-deal stories like Angle fleeing reporters and being affiliated with a birther group were relegated to small-time news coverage when Obama summoned the general to Washington for an in-person apology.
The same goes for Paul, who said unemployed people should stop waiting around for government assistance, a comment receiving relatively little attention as McChrystal changed the subject.
4. Foes in Afghanistan
Finally, opponents of Obama’s war strategy in Afghanistan are anxiously awaiting word of whether McChrystal will stay. After all, Obama gave McChrystal the troop surge he’d publicly sought and is implementing the policy in hopes of an end to the conflict next summer.
Rank-and-file military members fear a change in leadership could mean big changes on an important mission. But it’s not clear if McChrystal goes, how the mission would change, if at all.