Lawrence O'Donnell: 'We Do Not Elect Presidents To Trust Generals'

Lawrence O'Donnell had a few words for the pundits hyperventilating over the "explosive" revelations in Robert Gates' upcoming memoir and the notion that it's the president's job to "trust the generals."
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MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell took on the White House press corps, and ABC's Jonathan Karl in particular, who have been following Bob Woodward's lead with their "explosive" reporting on the upcoming memoir by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

After pointing out that many of the allegations that the media has latched onto aren't all that terribly "explosive" after all and showing some of the badgering that Press Secretary Jay Carney put up with this week, O'Donnell wrapped things up with some commentary on their criticisms about not "listening to the generals."

O'DONNELL: That reporter isn't old enough to remember that trusting the generals, that trusting senior military officers, as he puts it, was the worst mistake that many presidents have made, including of course President Kennedy.

That led to Kennedy's disastrous and complete failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba. Trusting the generals and his secretary of defense was the worst mistake that President Johnson made in what was America's worst unnecessary war.

President Nixon continued to make that same mistake in Vietnam after President Johnson. Trusting the generals in that hopeless war, wasted 58,220 American lives in Vietnam. We lost that war that the generals always told us we were winning. Week after week they told us we were winning.

We achieved nothing in Vietnam and we were driven out after the generals told us we were winning.

We do not elect presidents to trust generals. We do not elect presidents to trust anyone. We elect presidents to challenge everyone working in government to find the best available solutions to the problems presidents face on a daily basis.

Some of their advisers will be right one day and very wrong the next. This president knows that. Everyone working in the White House knows that, except some of the people whose only mission in the White House is to try to figure out how to ask explosive questions when the cameras are rolling in the White House press briefing room.

Now if the better part of the pundits on his own network would get that same message, it would really be nice.


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