General James Mattis served as Donald Trump’s Secretary of Defense before quietly resigning in protest last year. Mattis has remained quiet until today, when he published a lengthy and scathing letter condemning Trump for his abuse of power and lack of leadership. Not surprisingly, Trump is now going completely berserk about Mattis tonight. Trump tweeted this surreal diatribe:
Probably the only thing Barack Obama and I have in common is that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world’s most overrated General. I asked for his letter of resignation, & felt great about it. His nickname was “Chaos”, which I didn’t like, & changed it to “Mad Dog” His primary strength was not military, but rather personal public relations. I gave him a new life, things to do, and battles to win, but he seldom “brought home the bacon”. I didn’t like his “leadership” style or much else about him, and many others agree. Glad he is gone!
So where do we even start with this? To be clear, while President Obama and General Mattis didn’t see eye to eye on some things, Obama didn’t fire him. Nor did Trump fire Mattis, as Mattis resigned in protest. Trump is flat out lying about Mattis’ nickname, which can be easily confirmed. But the real story here is that Trump is making this so weirdly personal.
There are a number of conservatives and military types in the government who look up to General Mattis, and are going to take Mattis’ criticism of Trump seriously. Now that Trump is trying to smear Mattis’ record of service, those same individuals may be even more inclined to side with Mattis over Trump. This was a huge mistake on Trump’s part. He should have just kept quiet and taken his lumps – but his narcissism won’t allow it.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report