When I was in my twenties, I was interviewed for a newspaper and vaguely surprised that I was actually quoted. I was young, naive, and not newsworthy. McChrystal does not have that excuse. I now know the only way to ensure inappropriate statements don’t get to the wrong person is not to make them.
I say things to people I trust that I would not like to get out. My husband and I joke about being “in the bedroom with the door closed” even if we are in the car. I would not like to live as if I were being recorded all the time. But I did not even tell my husband that I wasn’t wild about my mother-in-law’s ravioli until after she died. (My son modified her recipe and makes better ravioli.) There was no point in saying something that would offend someone I liked and respected.
Statements leak. McChrystal should not have tolerated criticism of the Obama administration from his aides and not have said anything himself. That means not just to outsiders but among themselves. It would not be surprising if a disgruntled aide wrote a “tell all” book. Presumably that would take place after the war and would only be an embarrassment, not a career killer. It is always tempting to confide in people you trust. But reporters? He had to be crazy not to know there was a high probability he would be quoted.
I have a statement I call McCullough’s Law:
No matter how carefully the members of a group are selected, at least 2% of them are crazy.
It is a little frightening if the 2% are in charge.