In a phone interview this afternoon, Senator John McCain expanded on his statement from this morning on General Stanley McChrystal and the general's comments to Rolling Stone:

"If the president fires McChrystal, we need a new ambassador and we need an entire new team over there. But most importantly, we need the president to say what Secretary Clinton and Secretary Gates have both said but what the president refuses to say: Our withdrawal in the middle of 2011 will be conditions based. It's got to be conditions based and he's got to say it."

But McCain says that Obama is worried about the political repercussions of that kind of all-in statement.

"He won't say this because he's captive of his far-left base."

McCain, who holds McChrystal in high personal regard, says he wouldn't presume to tell Obama how to handle McChrystal. But he says that he's got a "pretty good idea" of what's likely to happen.

If McChrystal goes, McCain reiterated, "we need to have a look at the functioning of the whole team."

"All of us in politics from time to time have trusted a journalist we shouldn't have trusted, and I think McChrystal now understands that. The whole thing is just so unfortunate."

UPDATE: It's worth noting, according to the Rolling Stone article, McChrystal voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, not John McCain.

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