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Donald Trump's New National Security Adviser Sane, Smart, Competent. How The Hell Did THAT Happen?
Everyone's going to be misspelling it 'McMasters.' Or is that just us?
Guys, we think we've figured out how to fix the Trump administration. All you have to do is find a way to make his original cabinet members quit, and then he'll end up picking someone sane who can do a halfway-competent job while Trump rattles on at his permanent campaign rallies. After his horrible choice for Labor Secretary, Andrew Puzder, was forced to withdraw his nomination, Trump named Alexander Acostato replace him; Acosta is by all accounts a perfectly rational, refreshingly bland, ordinary government dude, a safe, boring insider who even the AFL-CIO likes. And after the forced departure of deranged national security adviser Michael Flynn (and a polite "keep that shit sandwich away from me" from Trump's next choice, retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward), Trump settled on Army Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster as his new national security adviser, and McMaster alsoseems like a remarkably good choice. So now we know. Here's hoping for some nice juicy scandals to break out around Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions, Scott Pruitt, and Betsy DeVos. This administration may yet have competent staff forced upon it.
McMaster, according to the New York Times,
has no links to Mr. Trump and is not thought of as being as ideological as the man he will replace. A battle-tested veteran of both the Persian Gulf war and the second Iraq war, General McMaster is considered one of the military’s most independent-minded officers, sometimes at a cost to his own career.
He's got support from a lot of Republicans who aren't raving Trumpistas, including John McCain and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who reportedly encouraged McMaster to accept the position. And everybody seems to love his book about Vietnam, Dereliction of Duty, which argued the Joint Chiefs of Staff should have more vigorously stood up to President Lyndon Johnson and dissuaded him from pursuing politically motivated aims in Vietnam (buy it with that linky there and Wonkette gets a kickback). We're planning to read his book to see if he is indeed a magnificent bastard.
So the hope is that McMaster will himself be someone who's willing to tell Trump he's wrong. We'll see how that goes; just last week, the administration shitcanned two cabinet aides who'd criticized the Great Man.
McMaster will be wading into a National Security Council that's every bit as chaotic as every other part of the Trump administration, with lots of infighting between career professionals and the political appointees Trump's team has actually managed to place in jobs during whatever brief periods they're actually doing their jobs and not stabbing each other in the back. McMaster, whose experience has mostly been in military leadership, not managing a fractious bureaucracy, will be expected to work with all the holdovers from Mike Flynn's 24-day tenure in the job. (Here is a fun fact we picked up from the New York Times! Flynn's appointees are "derisively called the Flynnstones" by career civil servants.) Retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, who has been serving as Trump's acting national security adviser since Flynn was canned, will stay on as the Security Council's chief of staff. Honestly, we never would have predicted we'd find ourselves reassured to see a bunch of generals running the government, but they seem to understand the institutions of a constitutional republic a hell of a lot better than the ideological buffoons Trump has otherwise surrounded himself with.
Also, in case you'd like to experience the vicarious thrill of having dodged a bullet, please note that Trump's other top candidate to replace Flynn was John "Let's bomb everyone all the time" Bolton. Sadly, Trump says he's still planning to find a place in the administration for him. Let's hope it's Secretary of Parking or something.
We'll confess some of the praise for McMaster sounds like wishful thinking. CNN's national security Analyst Peter Bergen burbles over "Trump's brilliant choice," and Forbes columnist John Baldoni looks forward to "How General H. R. McMaster Can Lead The President," both of which probably reflect a fantasy that McMaster will somehow save foreign and military policy from a president who knows nothing about either but is convinced he's smarter than the generals. Will an intellectual general really be able to keep Trump in check, or is that merely whistling for the dork? Still, any adults in the room are certainly welcome.
Now if we can just get Steve Bannon to actually go out with those call girls we keep sending to his house...
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