The flood of tell-all books about Donald Trump’s words and actions during his presidency keeps gushing forth. As I said in an earlier post a couple of weeks ago, these books appear to be largely just insider gossip that tell us little that was substantive but instead add to the picture of a petulant man-child who should never have got anywhere near a responsible high office. The books are all unflattering and now Trump has chosen, unwisely I think, to hit back at his critics and his own comments reveal more damaging things about him than what are in the books.
I was particularly struck by a statement put out by him is response to the reports that the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff General Mark Milley had been highly critical of Trump and had warned that he was trying to stage a coup but that he (Milley) would not allow it.
On Thursday, Trump lashed out at Milley over the new reports, saying he named the four-star Army general as Joint Chiefs chair in 2018 “only because the world’s most overrated general, James Mattis, could not stand him, had no respect for him, and would not recommend him.”
“To me,” Trump said, “the fact that Mattis didn’t like him, just like Obama didn’t like him and actually fired Milley, was a good thing, not a bad thing. I often act counter to people’s advice who I don’t respect.”
I was aghast. That is how he picks people for some of the most important positions in the government? To make a decision based on the logic of it being the opposite of what those you despise made is a recipe for disaster because it is based on the unrealistic hope that two negatives will result in a positive. It is carrying the ancient proverb of “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” to a ridiculous level. To maker it worse, Trump was not even correct in the factual basis of this particular hiring decision.
Trump’s statement that former President Barack Obama fired Milley is incorrect. It was Mattis whom Obama fired as head of U.S. Central Command in 2013, in large part because of Mattis’ increasingly hawkish posture toward Iran.
Mattis went on to serve as Trump’s first Defense secretary but resigned from the administration in 2018 in protest of the president’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria. Mattis initially refrained from criticizing Trump after leaving the Pentagon, but ultimately accused him of seeking “to divide” Americans and said the Jan. 6 insurrection “was fomented by Mr. Trump.”
Trump then issues another statement later in the same day where he lashes out at the people who worked for him and are now providing the fodder for these books, saying “Many say I am the greatest star-maker of all time. But some of the stars I produced are actually made of garbage.”
Is Trump so utterly incapable of self-reflection that he doesn’t ask himself why so many of the the people he chose turned out to be made of garbage? Surely the reason is because of the absurd basis on which he picks them that he just proudly boasted about?