Just a few paragraphs into "The Runaway General," President Obama had made up his mind, according to Mike Allen: It was time to part ways with General Stanley McChrystal, the former commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
"The president's eventual decision was clear from the moment he read the first paragraph of that Rolling Stone article where the general is protesting going to a dinner with the French, where an aide to the general refers to the French as 'gay,'" said Allen, chief political correspondent for Politico, who joined moderator Bob Schieffer on Washington Unplugged today. "This is a NATO ally, someone that we're asking for more troops [from]. It was the effect on allies, the effect on lower level people in the military that made the president realize we're better off without him than with him."
Although Mr. Obama seemed intent on relieving the general from the outset, there was more than a day of debate amongst the president and his aides as to whether or not to dismiss McChrystal.
"The biggest argument to keep the general was 'this will disrupt our policy,'" Allen said. "If this was the only general who could keep this policy going or if pulling him out would delay things, that was what they looked at."
In the end, however, Allen said "officials felt it would be very difficult for them to work with the general with this in the background. They realized that this was just not going to be a relationship that was going to last."
They hope their relationship with the new Commander of US forces in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, will last a long time. According to Allen, the president made clear that Petraeus was appointed not only because he supports the current plan in Afghanistan, but because he helped craft it. Mr. Obama never tried to use this ordeal as an opportunity to change the policy, he said.
"The president's other big message was he does not want dissension on his team," Allen said. "The president in the rose garden sent the message to the whole government that he wanted it to be more like the Obama campaign, the 'no-drama Obama.' They didn't leak much, they were loyal, they were all on the same page. The president is saying he wants that for his national security team, his larger team. I'm told that message was very deliberate."
Watch Thursday's Washington Unplugged above, also featuring an interview with Sebastian Mallaby, author of the new book "More Money Than God" about the secret world of hedge funds and a report on Oliver Stone's mission to change public perceptions in the U.S. of political and social movements in South America.
"Washington Unplugged," CBSNews.com's exclusive daily politics Webshow, appears live on CBSNews.com each weekday at 12:30 p.m. ET. Click here to check out previous episodes.