The embarrassing nonsense of General Mattis

Despite protestations of principle from former secretary of defense James Mattis — "Chaos," "Mad Dog," and "Warrior Monk" — you knew it was coming.  Mattis resigned in February of 2019 over a policy dispute with President Trump, who was determined to end U.S. involvement in Syria's endless civil war.  At the time, Mattis piously intoned that he would not be criticizing a sitting president.  He maintained that stance for over a year — perhaps a Deep State record in the Age of Trump Derangement.

When Mattis's ritual denunciation of the sitting president finally came, it appeared in the reliably left-wing Atlantic — the clearest signal of all as to where Mattis's sympathies had always resided.  The stunning thing about it was what a ridiculous potpourri of clichés it presented. 

Three points need to be addressed — and not according to Mattis's own order of treatment, which is a little shaky, anyhow.

First, Mattis excoriates Trump for failing to unify Americans.  Is he serious?  Even before Trump took office, the Resistance to his presidency was being organized.  It included many government officials and even many who intended to stay on as spies in the Trump White House.  Trump's inauguration was besieged by mobs of leftists in pussy hats, including womenfolk attached to FBI director James Comey.  A spurious probe into Russian interference was already underway and would shortly be formalized with the demented figurehead Robert Mueller as its official representative.  General Mike Flynn would shortly be forced out of office and prosecuted.  The salacious Steele dossier would be promoted as a source of truths.  Later on, one of Trump's supremely qualified Supreme Court nominees would be targeted with absurd allegations of high school sexual aggression.

And that's not even half of it.  Can anyone really claim that Trump is the one sowing disunity?

Second — but closely associated with point number one — Mattis plays the Nazi card.  Yup.  Seems the Nazis tried to destroy us with the motto "Divide and Conquer" (usually attributed to Philip of Macedon, not to Heinrich Himmler), but we boldly resisted with the countervailing motto, "In Union There Is Strength" (from one of Aesop's fables).  And Trump is definitely a Nazi because he's trying to divide us.  Or maybe he's trying to divide us because he's a Nazi.  He probably speaks German on the side and likes to wear shiny black boots.

Mattis — widely celebrated as a history buff — seems to have forgotten the actual state of the country back when we were fighting Hitler.  The U.S. military was segregated.  FDR had shipped Japanese-Americans to concentration camps.  Was the America of the Greatest Generation really the model of national unity that Mattis pretends?  Or did he just need to work the word "Nazi" into his attack on Trump because somebody like Rick Wilson told him to?

Third, and most offensive, Mattis dismisses nationwide riots and the murder of cops as a mere distraction.  "We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers," saith the sage.  Millions of dollars at least in theft and property damage on top of COVID-19 losses to small business?  Hey, don't sweat it, quips our glorious military exemplar.  A rising death toll from the disorder — including blacks whose lives presumably mattered?  Don't make the Warrior Monk laugh!  What really matters is some abstract principle that "we can all get behind."  What really matters is the enduring verity: Orange Man Bad!

I'd really like to see Mattis tell the families of David Dorn and Italia Marie Kelly that their loved ones were simply distractions from the super-wise point he wants made.  Right now he seems just clueless enough to do it.

Even better, I'd like to hear him admit that his problem with Trump has nothing to do with Lafayette Park and the First Amendment and everything to do with Trump's defiance of the New World Order.  I'd like to hear him admit that he thinks he and his class should be running American foreign relations.

Honesty is the best policy.  (That's from Poor Richard's Almanack, not Mein Kampf.)

Tom Riley is widely known as a poet of the formalist school and is the author of The Ghost of Biden's Brain.

Despite protestations of principle from former secretary of defense James Mattis — "Chaos," "Mad Dog," and "Warrior Monk" — you knew it was coming.  Mattis resigned in February of 2019 over a policy dispute with President Trump, who was determined to end U.S. involvement in Syria's endless civil war.  At the time, Mattis piously intoned that he would not be criticizing a sitting president.  He maintained that stance for over a year — perhaps a Deep State record in the Age of Trump Derangement.

When Mattis's ritual denunciation of the sitting president finally came, it appeared in the reliably left-wing Atlantic — the clearest signal of all as to where Mattis's sympathies had always resided.  The stunning thing about it was what a ridiculous potpourri of clichés it presented. 

Three points need to be addressed — and not according to Mattis's own order of treatment, which is a little shaky, anyhow.

First, Mattis excoriates Trump for failing to unify Americans.  Is he serious?  Even before Trump took office, the Resistance to his presidency was being organized.  It included many government officials and even many who intended to stay on as spies in the Trump White House.  Trump's inauguration was besieged by mobs of leftists in pussy hats, including womenfolk attached to FBI director James Comey.  A spurious probe into Russian interference was already underway and would shortly be formalized with the demented figurehead Robert Mueller as its official representative.  General Mike Flynn would shortly be forced out of office and prosecuted.  The salacious Steele dossier would be promoted as a source of truths.  Later on, one of Trump's supremely qualified Supreme Court nominees would be targeted with absurd allegations of high school sexual aggression.

And that's not even half of it.  Can anyone really claim that Trump is the one sowing disunity?

Second — but closely associated with point number one — Mattis plays the Nazi card.  Yup.  Seems the Nazis tried to destroy us with the motto "Divide and Conquer" (usually attributed to Philip of Macedon, not to Heinrich Himmler), but we boldly resisted with the countervailing motto, "In Union There Is Strength" (from one of Aesop's fables).  And Trump is definitely a Nazi because he's trying to divide us.  Or maybe he's trying to divide us because he's a Nazi.  He probably speaks German on the side and likes to wear shiny black boots.

Mattis — widely celebrated as a history buff — seems to have forgotten the actual state of the country back when we were fighting Hitler.  The U.S. military was segregated.  FDR had shipped Japanese-Americans to concentration camps.  Was the America of the Greatest Generation really the model of national unity that Mattis pretends?  Or did he just need to work the word "Nazi" into his attack on Trump because somebody like Rick Wilson told him to?

Third, and most offensive, Mattis dismisses nationwide riots and the murder of cops as a mere distraction.  "We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers," saith the sage.  Millions of dollars at least in theft and property damage on top of COVID-19 losses to small business?  Hey, don't sweat it, quips our glorious military exemplar.  A rising death toll from the disorder — including blacks whose lives presumably mattered?  Don't make the Warrior Monk laugh!  What really matters is some abstract principle that "we can all get behind."  What really matters is the enduring verity: Orange Man Bad!

I'd really like to see Mattis tell the families of David Dorn and Italia Marie Kelly that their loved ones were simply distractions from the super-wise point he wants made.  Right now he seems just clueless enough to do it.

Even better, I'd like to hear him admit that his problem with Trump has nothing to do with Lafayette Park and the First Amendment and everything to do with Trump's defiance of the New World Order.  I'd like to hear him admit that he thinks he and his class should be running American foreign relations.

Honesty is the best policy.  (That's from Poor Richard's Almanack, not Mein Kampf.)

Tom Riley is widely known as a poet of the formalist school and is the author of The Ghost of Biden's Brain.