George Stephanopoulos Fawns Over Obama's Handling of McChrystal Controversy: A 'Political Masterstroke'
Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos on Thursday hyped Barack Obama's handling of the decision to fire General Stanley McChrystal and replace him with David Petraeus, lauding the action as a "political masterstroke."
His comments built on extensive media praise on Wednesday, including many reporters who called the move "brilliant." Stephanopoulos seemed particularly pleased.
The former Democratic aide turned journalist extolled, "...That pick really seems to have been the political masterstroke that got President Obama out of the tight box he was in. It's being welcomed both by Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill."
Reporter Martha Raddatz agreed with Stephanopoulos, enthusing, "Sending Petraeus to Afghanistan is, by all accounts, a great save, for exactly the reasons the President described."
A transcript of the June 24 segment, which aired at 7:04am, follows:
ROBIN ROBERTS: But, it, as you know, is a new day, under new leadership for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. After a high-stakes meeting with General Stanley McChrystal, President Obama announced his resignation, the general's resignation. And named his replacement, the architect of the surge in Iraq, General David Petraeus.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Robin, that pick really seems to have been the political masterstroke that got President Obama out of the tight box he was in. It's being welcomed both by Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill. Petraeus is expected to be confirmed quickly by the Senate and to be on the ground in Afghanistan next week. The big question, now, can General Petraeus fix a war effort that has been proceeding in fits and starts? President Obama said he was changing personnel, not policy. But, many wondering if a change in strategy is needed. We have Senator John McCain standing by live to talk about that. But, we're going to begin with Martha Raddatz and the high drama in the high change of command. And, Martha, it was pretty stunning. 30 minutes with the President and a 30-year career is over.
MARTHA RADDATZ: That's exactly right, George. General McChrystal and his top aide will not be returning to Afghanistan and say good-bye. Their personal effects are being packed up right now for shipping back to the U.S. As an official in Kabul told me this morning, it feels like a death in the family. It all happened so fast. And in retrospect, was so obvious. Cameras trained on a White House entrance, caught Stanley McChrystal leaving his tense and final meeting with President Obama. And a short time later, David Petraeus arrived. He had come for a scheduled national security council meeting about Afghanistan. But we now know that just 45 minutes after McChrystal was ousted, the President called Petraeus to the oval office and asked him to take McChrystal's job.
BARACK OBAMA: He has worked closely with our forces in Afghanistan. He has worked closely with Congress. He has my full confidence.
RADDATZ: Sending Petraeus to Afghanistan is, by all accounts, a great save, for exactly the reasons the President described. Petraeus is jokingly referred to by some in the military as a water walker, who seems to turn even the worst situations around. He received enormous credit for that in Iraq, where he served three, different tours, the last overseeing the surge. Ironically, he took over central command in 2008 because the man who was then holding the job, Admiral William Fallon, was ousted, after an Esquire magazine profile put him at odds with the Bush administration. The central command job, headquartered in Tampa, put Petraeus in charge of a swath of global hot spots, from Yemen, to Iran, to Pakistan. A senior administration official joked that sending Petraeus from Tampa to Kabul, was not exactly on the Better Homes tour. But clearly, the President is hoping that the magic touch Petraeus has had in the past, will help him in one of the toughest wars ever. And this may well be the hardest challenge Petraeus has faced. We also don't know how long he will be in Afghanistan. He has already spent nearly half of the last ten years in a war zone. George?