Thursday, December 08, 2016


Washington Post front page, are you kidding me?

The linked story is not bad, apart from this assertion. But why does the media continue to say this about Trump? The guy said he wanted to "bomb the shit out of" ISIS. He advocated taking Iraq's oil as spoils of war. Why was the press so focused on his (after-the-fact) Iraq War skepticism while ignoring his more bloodthirsty applause lines?

The Post story notes Trump's choice of retired Marine general John Kelly to head the Department of Homeland Security, one of several military men who'll have (or might have) top positions in the administration:
If confirmed, Kelly and defense secretary nominee James Mattis, a retired Marine general with the nickname “Mad Dog,” would join retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, Trump’s pick for White House national security adviser. Meanwhile, retired Army Gen. David H. Petraeus is under consideration for secretary of state, and Navy Adm. Michael S. Rogers is a contender for director of national intelligence.
What's going on?
Despite making regular remarks on the campaign trail disparaging the nation’s generals, Trump has long shown an affinity for them. In shaping his administration, Trump has prioritized what one adviser described as “can-do, no-bull types” ...

Trump, who received multiple draft deferments and who has no military experience beyond his years at a military boarding school, is said to be drawn to generals by their swagger and dazzled by their tales from the battlefield.
I'm not sure why Trump said on the campaign trail that he "know[s] more about ISIS than the generals do." (He said that in the same speech in which he talked about bombing the shit out of ISIS.) If I had to guess, I'd say it's simple jealousy -- Trump thinks of himself as the toughest of tough guys, the alpha of all alphas, but he knows that military men are seen as tougher, and while he never actually wanted to fight, he envies their status. The admiration he's expressing now is the flip side of that envy. And now, of course, he's unquestionably in the dominant position -- he gets to hire them; he gets to be their boss.

He wants the reflected glory. It's not just that, in his view, these guys are tough -- it's that they're perceived as tough. To him, they carry an aura of toughness -- and therefore, by extension, so does he. Compare this to what Trump insiders have said about the president-elect's baffling interest in making Mitt Romney his secretary of state:
Transition officials ... say that Mr. Trump believes that Mr. Romney, with his patrician bearing, looks the part of a top diplomat right out of “central casting” ...
Trump has now reverted to the pro-military stance that for decades has been part of how conservatives define themselves. Trump presumably picked this up from his beloved Fox News. (Recall that Trump frenemy Roger Ailes wanted David Petraeus to run for president in 2012. Ailes communicated this wish to Petraeus via K.T. McFarland, who'll now be Trump's deputy national security adviser, reporting to General Mike Flynn.)

Trump loves the toughness. The generals' other accomplishments are probably secondary. Here was Trump talking about his choice of General Mattis to be defense secretary:
“ ‘Mad Dog’ plays no games, right?” Trump told a roaring crowd Tuesday night in Fayetteville, N.C. “Led the forces that went after the Taliban and commanded the First Marine Division in Iraq. He is one of the most effective generals that we’ve had in many, many decades."
The first sentence of that was clearly heartfelt. In the rest, Trump seems like a late-night talk-show host reading his final guest's introduction off an index card.

Trump thinks hiring a lot of generals makes him an honorary military man. But for the GOP in recent decades, that's typical. Ronald Reagan loved to salute, even though his military experience was limited to filmmaking and a war-bond drive. George W. Bush gave us that flightsuit moment in 2003, even though his military service was limited to the Texas Air National Guard. Trump is like no president we've seen before in many ways -- but not in this way.


CF2K said...

Jock Sniffer-In-Chief.

Robert Muir said...

I'm willing to bet cash money that he will have a uniform designed for him that he can wear when he's acting as commander in chief.

At least one - maybe more. Heck the Kaiser before World War 1 would change uniforms serval times a day.

Buford said...

It is looking more like a Banana Republican Junta...a Death Panel so to speak...

Fiddlin Bill said...

The appointment of Gen. Kelly to head Homeland Security seems to be more than this general man crush on Authority. Trump has notably made promises about a gigantic deportation program. Who better to run it, and the new internal security force it would of necessity require, than a Marine 4-Star general. While all of Trump's appointments are horrifying, putting Kelly as head of Homeland Security may well portend the actual effort to deport millions of people. Expect knocks on the door in the night before long.

Ken_L said...

Trump brays that Mattis is the greatest general since Patton, disregarding the fact that Patton would have made an absolutely terrible Defense Secretary (in fact he would have been terrible in pretty much any peace-time public office, including the military).