Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Mad Dog and Me

Actually, this is not about me at all, but "me" was alliterative and made for a reasonable title for a piece like this.

Back after President Trump was elected, and he started assembling his Cabinet, we noticed a pattern in the appointments.  The pattern, such as it could be defined, was that he was clearly not following any previous president's model in selecting many of the leaders of his administration.

Donald Trump, president-elect as he was, was looking for the absolutely best person available for at least the most important roles in the Cabinet and Cabinet-level positions.

How has that worked out, folks?

Well, I will start with one of the most unusual and unexpected picks for Secretary of State in history, that being Rex Tillerson, a man whose entire career had been at the companies that became ExxonMobil, eventually becoming the CEO of the company.  Diplomatic experience in Government?  Shoot, Tillerson had exactly zero experience getting a paycheck at any level of government.

The left, of course, was aghast.  They hate fossil fuels to begin with, for no obvious reason except that most such firms are led by Republicans.  Seriously, there has to be a reason why global warming is such a cause célèbre of the left, to the point where they made Al Gore a multimillionaire for lying about it.

More importantly, though, the left's purported worry was that, once in office, Tillerson would do what was best for ExxonMobil, regardless of what it would do for the USA.  Now, Tillerson wasn't exactly a virgin in dealing with the leadership of the world's powers.  In fact, one reason I came around on Tillerson was that his commercial dealings with Putin and Xi and those types, while at ExxonMobil, had been to get something directly done, not to go through layers of diplomatic pomposity.  That kind of "git 'er done" approach might actually get something done to the benefit of the USA, something that John Kerry had zero success at with his approach.

I assume that if you are reading this, you have seen Rex Tillerson as Secretary Tillerson already.  Are you not rather excited at the very, very obvious signs that he goes into each meeting overseas with a laser focus on goal (as opposed to the next state dinner)?  If he doesn't get what he wants for the USA at a meeting, he is right there in front of a camera pointing out the intransigence and poverty of rational thinking of the other party.

That's pretty much my thinking on Gen. James Mattis, our current Secretary of Defense.  Gen. Mattis got less pushback from the left; sure, they complained about how many generals were in President Trump's Cabinet, but they sure were not challenging this general's capabilities, they were scared to death of him. 

When President-elect Trump first announced Gen. Mattis's selection at a rally or speech of some kind, the place went nuts.

I look at Secretary Mattis and am actually surprised that he has not been as visible as one might have expected.  You remember how we always say that a well-armed USA, that shows itself prepared to use its strength where needed, is a deterrent to war around the world?  Mattis is so visibly intimidating -- with or without the stars on the shoulders -- that he scares me too, and we're on the same side!  I don't really think ISIS -- nor particularly North Korea -- is particularly pleased with the decision to put him atop the Pentagon, if you know what I mean.

There had not been a general appointed Secretary of Defense in  quite a while.  There has been a "tradition", such as it mattered, of civilian oversight of the military.  But as the position of Secretary Mattis suggests, that might be a tradition worth dissolving.  One of the many horrific tacks taken by the Obama Administration was either to ignore the advice of his flag officer corps, or to micromanage them.  Obama had zero military understanding, but he was in charge, which was why he wore out a series of Defense secretaries and drove a host of generals and admirals to retire rather than serve him by being ignored daily.

Secretary Mattis is not only clearly a phenomenal leader at a personal level, he has the flag officer's combination of well-trained military education and experience with the general's reserve about putting his troops in harm's way without a good reason and a clear objective -- something that Barack Obama still doesn't understand.

I actually think we will hear a lot from the good secretary in the next few years, and it won't be pretty for our enemies.  I saw him in a clip of a speech or conference yesterday, and it was a pretty intimidating thing when he talks, a man who so clearly detests extra flourishes.  You get the distinct feeling that he'd rather be doing something than talking about it.

We had never had a career business executive take over the State Department and a career military officer take over Defense at the same time.  The thinking that put that kind of person in the positions that they have is the kind of swamp-draining mentality that was sorely needed.  I wish them well, but I am so optimistic for our nation that a new way of looking at running the country appears not just to have prevailed, but to be succeeding.

Who in God's name would Hillary have put in those seats?  Wimpy von Wimpingham? The stomach turns.

Copyright 2017 by Robert Sutton
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