As you'd expect, Tuesday's White House briefing was dominated by questions about Gen. Stanley MacArthur, I mean, McChrystal's scheduled visit to the White House Wednesday in the wake of the jaw-dropping Rolling Stone article that had Washington transfixed.
Reporters asked different versions of the question: is McChrystal toast as the U.S. top combatant commander in Afghanistan? Others sought to get White House press secretary Robert Gibbs to describe President Barack Obama's reaction.
Gibbs stayed in his lane and didn't offer anything on McChrystal's future status though he did say "all options are on the table." If you're the general or his aides, you know what that means.
Gibbs also described the president as being "angry" after reading the RS piece by Michael Hastings which we don't doubt since McChrystal and his posse appeared to doubt the smarts and toughness of everyone associated with Afghanistan strategy, except, of course, themselves.
Here's part of Gibbs' exchange with reporters:
REPORTER: Is McChrystal’s job safe?
GIBBS: We’ll have more to say after that meeting.
REPORTER: Does the president consider the remarks in the story from Gen. McChrystal and his aides insubordination?
GIBBS: I think the president is looking forward to speaking with Gen. McCrystal about those remarks.
REPORTER: Can you characterize at all the president’s reaction to hearing that aides for McChrystal called Vice President Biden "Bite Me," that a McChrystal adviser said that Obama "clearly didn’t know anything about McChrystal when they first met. Here’s a guy who’s going to run his (bleeping) war. He didn’t seem very engaged. The boss was pretty disappointed."
GIBBS: He’ll have his undivided attention tomorrow... Without a doubt, Gen. McCrystal, as Secretary Gates has said, has made an enormous mistake, a mistake that he’ll get a chance to talk about and answer to tomorrow to both officials in the Pentagon and the commander-in-chief.
REPORTER: Does the president still have confidence that Gen. McChrystal can still run this war?
GIBBS: We should wait and see what the outcome of that meeting is.
REPORTER: Why hasn’t McChrystal talked to the president yet? ... I mean, wouldn't the president be the first person that he would pickup the phone, he would call and apologize directly to? We know he'stalked to Mullen and Gates and all these other people.
GIBBS: I don't know why — I don't know — General McChrystal has not called the president. The president has not called General McChrystal. The president asked that General McChrystal come, and they'll get an opportunity to talk about this article face to face, some time tomorrow.
REPORTER: But does the president not want to hear from him right now? He wants to wait for a face-to-face —
GIBBS: Well, I think right now he's on a plane coming backhere to have that face-to-face meeting.