A few days ago Tom Clemens stuck up for George McClellan during a Department of Defense lecture. Little Mac’s reputation, he argued, has suffered unfairly due to contemporary political meddling, unclear orders, and the towering stature of the men he opposed. The 150th anniversary of Antietam seems like a good opportunity for public historians and popular writers to offer people a more positive portrait of McClellan than they’ve been accustomed to, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.
On a much weightier note, online forum users are discussing the only presidential ranking method that really counts: Which chief executive would prevail in a mass free-for-all knife fight? Jackson, Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt are the obvious odds-on favorites. On the other hand, Washington was 6’2″, ripped, and long-limbed. I think he’d hold his own with the best of ’em.
Hey, with this whole Gen. McChrystal flap, reckon there’s any chance all those pundits and columnists will break out the historical comparisons and contrasts?
Is the Pope Catholic?
Here’s just a sample of the bumper crop so far, springing up faster than you can say “Doris Kearns Goodwin”:
- The Greensboro News & Record gives it to you short and sweet.
- The Kansas City Star, complete with slide show.
- From The Atlantic: “Obama Borrows the Military Back.” Get it? Get it?!?
- Politics Daily ranks the “Top 3 All-Time General-Against-President Feuds.” Guess what the top two are. No, go on. Guess.
- Hey, speaking of Doris Kearns Goodwin…
- You know, what this scenario really needs is somebody to play Grant to McChrystal’s Young Napoleon. From ABC: “As one Marine told ABC News, ‘the softball is teed up for Petraeus to hit it out of the park.'” Ta-daa!
- NPR notes that “commanders must carefully negotiate the discrepancy between the enormous power they wield in the field and the deference they must show to their civilian superiors.” Then they offer up the Conway Cabal as an example, despite the fact that Washington was not Conway’s civilian superior. Bonus points, though, for invoking something besides McClellan and MacArthur.
These are all from the first page of Google results I got, and it’s not even been twenty-four hours since McChrystal got called to the principal’s office.