Mad Dog Day Afternoon

Even though I spend several hours a day a writing, I’ve never been a big fan of the adage, The Pen is Mightier Than The Sword (I always picture the sword lopping off the hand that holds the pen and saying, “OK, your move.”) But there’s no denying the power of the pen in the hand of someone who’s spent a lifetime wielding a sword; which is a long way of saying that James Mattis has finally broken his silence on Trump. Many wish he had done this a lot sooner, but that only makes the fact that he’s doing it now an indicator of how dire the situation has become. And when his pen did hit paper, it did so with the force of a bunker buster (hitting a bunker that was just being inspected by the president). “When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens — much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside … Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.”

+ Don’t take my word for it when it comes to the seriousness of the moment. Take the word of John R Allen, a retired U.S. Marine Corps four-star general, and former commander of the NATO International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan: “The slide of the United States into illiberalism may well have begun on June 1, 2020. Remember the date. It may well signal the beginning of the end of the American experiment. The president of the United States stood in the Rose Garden of the White House on Monday, railed against weak governors and mayors who were not doing enough, in his mind, to control the unrest and the rioters in their cities, and threatened to deploy the U.S. military against American citizens. It was a stunning moment.” A Moment of National Shame and Peril—and Hope.

+ These military men see what many analysts have seen for three plus years. The New Yorker’s Masha Gessen explains: “Whether or not he is capable of grasping the concept, Trump is performing fascism.” And now that he’s increasingly cornered, electorally and internationally; and being publicly admonished by the leaders of the tough guy club in which he fantasizes himself a member, the performance is going to become a lot more extreme. James Mattis holds the ethical high ground, but he may have to cede his nickname: Mad Dog.

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