After the publication of the anonymous op-ed in the New York Times that got not just the White House but the entire political climate abuzz with who could possibly be responsible for having written it, tensions mounted in the West Wing among Trump’s most fierce loyalists to seek out the author and somehow punish them.
Usually, the louder someone cries out about how awful a deed was, the likelier it is that they were behind it, but the loudest voices in this case were actually the least likely — most would never in a million years suspect that Sarah Huckabee Sanders, for example, was behind the op-ed, and yet she was far and away the most vocal in her support of catching the perpetrator.
That doesn’t preclude anyone else, though, and although most of Trump’s top staffers issued official denials either in person or through their offices, no one truly believes that it wasn’t somebody who’s already said it wasn’t them.
Could that be what’s behind the new animosity that Donald Trump is showing toward his Defense Secretary, Jim Mattis?
Maybe it was the revelation by famed Watergate journalist Bob Woodward in his new book Fear that Mattis had once accused the President of having a “fifth- or sixth-grader” understanding of the Korean conflict, or any number of the other accounts from that book that should terrify anyone worried that only his Cabinet members are keeping Trump from pushing a big red button at any minute.
It could be any of those things, honestly, but the most likely reason that Trump has twisted the former Marine Corps General’s nickname “Mad Dog” into the less-favorable “Moderate Dog Mattis” is that he simply doesn’t like being second-guessed.
According to more people than just the Woodward account, Trump is under the mistaken impression that America can simply bomb, kill, or eliminate anyone on the globe without repercussions. That lends itself, of course, to a footnote in the book that says Mattis once ignored a direct order from Trump to have Syrian President Bashar al-Assad assassinated. But it lends itself even more to the idea of Donald Trump as a crazed unitary executive with zero idea of how the presidency works.
Keeping anyone around who might underscore that idea could prove fatal to the President’s ego.
We’ll see how much longer Mattis lasts in this administration.
Featured image via screen capture