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Good riddance to James Mattis — Trump's last general

December 22, 2018 in Blogs

By Lucian K. Truscott IV, Salon

The “adults in the room” were never going to save us from Trump’s tweets and tantrums

The word “unprecedented” is being used a lot by retired generals, political pundits, and national security experts discussing the resignation of General James Mattis as secretary of defense yesterday. No one could remember a member of any president’s cabinet resigning without lobbing a few words of praise at the president who appointed him, but Mattis did just that on Thursday. His letter of resignation, it was noted, did not even feature a citation such as “sincerely” in closing. Mattis simply signed his name across the middle of the bottom of the page and left it at that.

The word “anxiety” is also flying around. The nation’s capital awoke this morning to a headline in its hometown newspaper, the Washington Post, which read, “’A morning of alarm’: Mattis departure sends shock waves abroad.”

“In China and Russia — U.S. adversaries that were cited in Mattis’s resignation letter as deserving of tough treatment — there was open anxiety that the world had just become more vulnerable to conflict,” the Post reported. The post quoted Norbert Röttgen, the chairman of the German parliament’s foreign affairs committee and a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel saying, “With him [Mattis] gone, this really marks a juncture in the Trump presidency. Now we have an unrestrained Trump, which is a dangerous signal for the year ahead.”

Even Trump allies like Senator Mitch McConnell couldn’t find a silver lining in the cloud forming after Mattis’ sudden and unexpected resignation. In an unusual break with a president he has followed down every rabbit hole Trump has dug, McConnell said he was “distressed that he [Mattis] is resigning due to sharp differences with the president.” Wow, that was brave, Mitch. We’ll be sure to put “He was distressed” on your gravestone.

So how did we get here, to this place where in a single week, one cabinet secretary resigned in disgrace, another cabinet secretary resigned in disgust, the stock market continued to tank, the government faced a shutdown that will further cripple …read more


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