For what it’s worth, I called it. Shooting the breeze in our newsroom in the first hour after the Rolling Stone article had broken (initially in the form of an AP story, then we received the text) I said, in our newsroom to no one in particular, "What do you want to bet the President pulls Dave Petraeus off Centcom and makes him Special Master, in effect, for Afghanistan?"
I did not know General McChrystal well. I had dinner with him, his circle of aides (now well-known) and others in Afghanistan during my last trip there. I have known General Petraeus for several years, and last saw him here in New York. For all they share in common, the two men could not be more different. I think it’s safe to say General Petraeus is the closest thing we have to a "celebrity General" in this country—the way men like Patton, MacArthur, Bradley and Marshall were regarded over 60 years ago...and to this very day. If you asked 100 Americans, at random, to name an active duty General officer, I'm guessing Petraeus would be the only name, if any, that most people would volunteer—in what pollsters call "unassisted recall." Depending on the success of this new assignment for him, his name will loom even larger in the scope of history. Like all who have volunteered for duty, he has paid a huge personal price for his many deployments. As head of Central Command, he had just settled back in to a domestic routine, living Stateside while still traveling a great amount.
We will talk about all of it tonight. We'll also cover the latest stomach-turning development from the Gulf: the unchecked flow of oil, once again, from that BP well. To lift our spirits, we'll look at twin titanic struggles (both on grass) in the field of sports. We hope you can join us tonight.