Trump: Why he’s nominating generals
“For a man who dodged the draft during the Vietnam War, President-elect Donald Trump seems awfully gung ho to appoint generals to top positions,” said Trevor Thrall in USAToday.com. Trump has thus far tapped three retired generals to Cabinet-level posts: retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn for national security adviser, retired Marine Gen. John Kelly for Homeland Security, and retired Marine Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis for the Defense Department. The nation’s Founders specifically set up our government for civilians to oversee the military, not the other way around, said Gordon Adams in The New York Times. It’s dangerous for Trump to give so much political power to men trained to see military force as the solution to all problems, particularly since the war on terrorism has made the military “the dominant institution in how the U.S. engages with the world.”
Relax—Trump is not forming “a junta,” said Rich Lowry in NationalReview.com. Perhaps liberals forget, but when President Obama took office, he appointed three generals to top posts, and “the republic survived.” Four former generals—George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, and Dwight Eisenhower—have even served as our nation’s president, with no threat to the principle of civilian rule. Military men are actually less likely to favor the use of force than civilians, said Charles Dunlap in Vox.com. “Most officers have seen the horrors of war firsthand” and understand it must be used only as a last resort. Kelly had to bury his own son, who stepped on a land mine in Afghanistan, and Mattis has already persuaded Trump to drop his support for waterboarding.
Still, Trump does seem to have an unhealthy infatuation with “martial swagger,” said Shane Goldmacher in Politico.com. Perhaps it’s a legacy of his father’s decision to send young Donald to New York Military Academy at age 13 to straighten him out. Trump reportedly is fascinated with “swashbuckling World War II Gens. Douglas MacArthur and George Patton,” and is generally drawn to the generals’ “straight talk, and the kind of aggressive leadership style he adopts himself.” Indeed, when he nominated Mattis, Trump described him as “the closest thing to Gen. George Patton that we have.” The real danger, say those who know Trump well, is that the presidentelect may be so eager for the generals to approve of him—and think he’s just as tough—that he’ll do whatever they suggest.
■60% of Trump voters say Hillary Clinton received millions of illegal votes, and 40% believe he won the popular vote. 14% of Trump voters believe that Hillary Clinton is connected to a child sex ring run out of a Washington, D.C., pizzeria, and 32% are not sure. 67% of Trump voters believe that unemployment increased during the Obama presidency. Public Policy Polling