The one moderating force left on the Trump national security team is a guy nicknamed ‘Mad Dog’

Call him 'Mad Dog,' as often as possible....

Call him ‘Mad Dog,’ as often as possible….

I say that not to disparage Gen. Mattis. I think very highly of him. And we’re all dependent now on him, and him alone, to use his considerable skills to help our nation navigate a sane course.

I just thought the irony was worth noting. Of course, it’s not just an ironic coincidence. I’ve suspected from the start that the nickname “Mad Dog” is the main thing Trump likes about the general, so we should all use it a lot, so that they use it on Fox News, and Trump keeps him on.

In fact, maybe we should all prevail upon the SecDef to change his name to “Mad Dog” legally, because there’s little doubt that crazy is what this president likes.

Bolton mugWhen I heard John Bolton would replace H.R. McMaster, I cringed a bit. Then I tried to look on the bright side: I thought, people have always said bad things about Bolton, but the people who said those things were mostly the people who always said bad things about us neocons, so maybe he’s not really that bad.

So I did a little reading, refreshing my memory regarding Mr. Bolton, and… yeah, he’s really that bad. Ask Jennifer Rubin. Ask Max Boot. Oh, and as Ms. Rubin points out, Bolton is not a neocon: “Bolton is not strictly speaking a ‘neo-conservative,’ as his concern for human rights is muted.” She’s using “muted” liberally in this case.

Of course, those of you who watch cable TV news probably didn’t have to reach as far back in your memory as I did to remind yourselves how terrible he is at playing well with others. But I did.

So now, I’m back to where I started: suitably alarmed. And hoping Jim Mattis stays healthy and in you-know-who’s good graces…

14 thoughts on “The one moderating force left on the Trump national security team is a guy nicknamed ‘Mad Dog’

  1. Bryan Caskey

    I like his nickname of “CHAOS” better.

    “When the call sign originated, [Mattis] the then-colonel was a regimental commander in Twentynine Palms where, according to Mattis, “there’s nothing to do but go blow up the desert.” As he was leaving his operations office, he noticed the word “Chaos” written on the operations officer’s whiteboard.

    “I said, ‘What’s this about?’ I’m curious, you know. We all are. He says ‘oh you don’t need to know that,’” which only further piqued curiosity.

    “Finally, he kinda said, ‘Well it means the colonel has an outstanding solution,’ and it was very much tongue in cheek, ladies and gentlemen. They didn’t consider all my solutions quite as outstanding as I enthusiastically promoted them,” said Mattis.

  2. Norm Ivey

    Here’s a scary article from The American Conservative from a month or so ago titled, ironically enough, Why John Bolton Isn’t Part of The Trump Administration. This quote alone is enough cause for worry:

    …Americans can breathe easy knowing he didn’t hire Bolton as secretary of state, deputy secretary of state, or national-security advisor.

  3. Bryan Caskey

    Oh, and I’m not sure how much stock we can put in Jennifer Rubin’s current opinion of “In Bolton, the president has someone who may well encourage his most outlandish ideas.” (That’s from her column today.)

    In 2014, Rubin wrote a column that can basically be summarized as “Thank goodness for John Bolton“.

    Heck, in 2016, Rubin advocated for Bolton to have the #2 position at State during the transition.

    In a world of dishonest political hacks, she’s up there near the top. She’s playing a role. For a long while, her role was “token conservative that liberals can stomach.” That role took her far. Now it’s “brave conservative stands up to President”. Her liberal friends are her audience now. She’s a textbook case of Trump Derangement Syndrome.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I’d be interested to hear your nuanced definition of “Trump Derangement Syndrome.”

      What is Ms. Rubin, or Max Boot, or Bill Kristol, or anyone of the Never Trumpers, saying that is untrue, or even exaggerated?

      When I look at all the people in this country who fully understand how Trump has disgraced the presidency and damaged our country at home and abroad and say basically nothing, I deeply appreciate the people who will speak out.

      And frankly, given the godawful mess we have on our hands, I find their words on the subject to be measured and eminently sane. To suggest that they’re going off the deep end the way the Left did over Bush is totally unfair, and in no way matches the facts.

      In Trump, we have someone who is everything the people thought Bush was, only much, much worse.

      Please don’t fall in line with Doug and Claus and Richard, thinking “Oh, that Brad’s gone off the deep end, and never writes about anything but his obsession with Trump.” Which of course, in NO way fits the facts, as anyone who reviews my actual posts can tell you.

      In fact, I chide myself for ignoring him too much. Every morning as I drive into town and listen to the radio, and then as I read the papers over breakfast (today we have Bolton, provoking a trade war with Russia, further “bimbo eruptions,” an idle threat to blow up the agreement to keep the government running — over the stupid wall, no less — and more), I’m fully aware of the extent to which I’m failing to relate the enormity of this mess.

      But I have to look away. I have to think about other things, because this mess is so unthinkable.

      What do you think a rational person living in 2008, or 1998, or 1988, would do if told Donald Trump would become the most powerful man in the world, who would head the system of government our forefathers created, bled for and left to us as a precious heritage? Even 30 years ago, the man was THE embodiment of everything that was tawdry, trashy, and appalling in our culture, from the worst excesses of the business world to the sleaziest corners of entertainment and pop culture.

      And he’s only gotten worse.

      The “derangement” is that this man is president. Our country had to become deeply disturbed, had to lose its collective mind, had to resolve to roll in the gutter, to let this happen. And no one should act, for a single second, as though that is something to shrug at as we go about our business. Not if we give a damn…

      1. Mark Stewart

        The issue is that everyone is looking around, saying “well, I haven’t lost MY mind”… and so it goes.

        We are living through our darkest Presidential hour since 1865. Really. Not our darkest American hour – so far not by a long shot. But as far as the Presidency goes we are plumbing the depths of our collective insanity.

      2. Jeff Mobley

        One definable symptom of what Bryan calls “Trump Derangement Syndrome” might be: “reacting in horror to something, not because that thing is and has always been horrible, but because it’s of or related to Trump”. Evidence that a patient is suffering from this condition might include the patient making arguments against Trump administration policies or proposals while having a history of arguing in favor of those very same policies in the pre-Trump era.
        Trump critic Charlie Cooke diagnosed Rubin in this piece from last December.

        The point Cooke makes here is that such behavior undermines legitimate criticism of Trump, of which there is, and ought to be, plenty.

        If you look back at the early primary campaign for the 2012 presidential election, you’ll see that Jennifer Rubin was practically a cheerleader for Rick Santorum, until she abruptly switched to cheerleading for Mitt Romney. Her prerogative, of course, but it was interesting to observe.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Oh, and I just went and read that piece you characterize as “Thank goodness for John Bolton.”

      I don’t think that’s a fair characterization. It’s less about Bolton, and more about her concern that too many Republicans had, at that point in our political history, moved away from their historic concern with national security. She’s saying that maybe his success in fund-raising indicates that the GOP hasn’t moved away from such concerns as some folks thought.

      And I agree with her that, if that’s the case, that’s a good thing. As she wrote, “Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-N.C.) won’t be around forever.”

      Note that she was writing this from the safe position of the middle of the Obama administration’s second term. A Trump administration was an unthinkable national nightmare at the time. Trump wasn’t even on her or anyone else’s radar at the time — gentler isolationists such as Rand Paul very much were.

      Bolton was a gadfly to an administration that she often disagreed with. That’s a far cry from being someone in a position to push a PRESIDENT TRUMP in the direction of his worst instincts.

      You could probably embarrass her a little by showing her that piece now, but not a whole lot. And I think it’s a leap to suggest she’s being dishonest or hypocritical…

  4. bud

    To suggest that they’re going off the deep end the way the Left did over Bush is totally unfair, and in no way matches the facts.

    That’s hilarious. W was absolutely the worst president. I would even rank him a bit worse than Trump. He really was that bad. To minimize that badness is an injustice to the truth. Anyone that flagrantly lies the nation into war for oil richly deserves the derision that has been bestowed on him. Aside from the war lies W failed us all in so many ways from Katrina to the bank failures and his disastrous performance on 9-11.

    I recap these truths now because what we’re seeing is a return the neocon failures of the Bush years. Not only do we have Mad Dog and now Bolton but the president was touting the record spending for worthless military crap in an impromptu press conference today. If there was one tiny bit of hope for the Trump presidency it was that he would not get us entangled in foreign adventurism the way W did. This is turning out to be nothing but wishful thinking. While it is true George W Bush is still the incumbent worst president Trump is in a strong position to get over that very tall hurdle. Seems like we will never learn the lessons of Vietnam. And that is very disturbing.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      That’s it? After three hours, that’s the response I get on this Friday afternoon?

      I don’t know about these supposed “lessons of Vietnam” that so many people think are gospel, but you’d think I’d learn the Lesson of Blogging — there’s little point in posting on a Friday.

      One of these days I’m going to get strategic and post when people are looking for conversations…

    2. Mark Stewart

      Bud, please stop. Leave it alone. I agree with you in more respects than I want to think about. But that’s the point; Trump is not in any way comparable to Bush. I hope that you do see that they are very different. And stay focused on the now. You can say Bush’s Presidency lead us part way to Trump; but there it ends.

      1. bud

        Mark, the only reason I reference W now is because of the appointment of Bolton. This choice shows that we are likely to repeat the mistakes of the past. You may be right though to imply a comparison of W to Trump is unfair. Even Trump is not quite that awful. Yet. But he’s getting close.


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