The Adults in the Romper Room

The most current narrative about our callow boy-president is that the so-called “adults in the room” will work to modulate Trump’s worst impulsive tendencies.

The “adults” include Trump’s chief-of-staff, retired Marine general John Kelly, defense secretary, retired Marine general “Mad Dog” James Mattis, national security advisor, retired Army general H.R. McMaster, and secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, These adults are held in thrall by most of the mainstream media which oohs and aahs their collective adultness on a daily basis, without apparent qualm that most of them are military men running a civilian government.

H.R. McMaster, like James Mattis, is routinely celebrated for reading books (unlike our Commander-in-Chief who is routinely assumed to have never even opened a book). McMaster even wrote a book, Dereliction of Duty, which critiques the performance of our political leaders during the Vietnam era and was widely noted during McMaster’s congressional confirmation as Director of Homeland Security, a post he abandoned when another retired general, Russophile Mike Flynn, was fired from Trump’s White House staff.

Dereliction of Duty seizes upon one of the most over-worked and discredited memes about Vietnam,  that we coulda gone in and won that sucker had the politicians not tied  our hands militarily. That theory, of course,  overlooks the fact that over 700 million tons of U.S. bombs were dropped on that country and that 1.1 million North Vietnamese combatants were killed in action during our involvement. If that was hand-tying, I’d hate to see “gloves off”.

And, like most revisionist histories of ‘Nam, Dereliction of Duty never addresses the question of what exactly the U.S. would have “won” had we killed another million North Vietnamese.

But what’s ironic about McMaster’s book is his wholly un-original hypothesis that Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, aided and abetted by military advisors like General Maxwell Taylor, routinely lied to the American public about the progress and the strategy of the war. The irony, of course, is that McMaster now serves a president who lies before he even falls out of bed in the morning and spends the rest of his waking day just making shit up as he goes along. Apparently McMaster has no problems working for the kind of serial liar he denounces in Dereliction of Duty.

Another of Trump’s adult advisors is chief-of-staff John Kelly. Kelly is so obsessed by Trump’s ridiculous border wall concept that he predicts that the whole $200 billion boondoggle will be completed within 2 years and will go a long way to keeping “tremendous threats” safely south of the Mexican border. Kelly seems a little spooked by the threat of international terrorism as well, stating about terrorism:

“It’s everywhere. It’s constant. It’s nonstop. The good news for us in America is we have amazing people protecting us every day. But it can happen here almost anytime.”[31] He said that the threat from terrorism was so severe that some people would “never leave the house” if they knew the truth.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ major contribution to the administration seems to be to “soften” the tone of Trump’s belligerent, half-assed comments on foreign policy while never once refuting anything Trump actually says. At no point has Mattis even hinted that Trump’s sophomoric “fire and fury” and “locked and loaded” comments  might be inappropriate in the middle of a nuclear showdown.

As for Tillerson, he gets an “incomplete” on this grade card since he hasn’t done a god damn thing, including appointing an ambassador to South Korea, which might come in handy about now.

The U.S. is in the midst of a decades-long era of “low intensity conflict”, a euphemism for perpetual and continuous war. Trump’s “adults” are old hands at this game, experientially and philosophically. It’s where the money is, after all, and these adults know on which side the bread is buttered.