Put yourself into James Mattis’ boots for a moment.
You’ve just tendered a resignation letter that scorches the commander in chief’s methods of governing, of managing the nation’s foreign and military policies.
You have told the president of the United States you would stay in your job as defense secretary until Feb. 28.
But the president is so angry with you — with all the attention and love you’re getting from the media and politicians of both parties — that he’s decided to cut you loose early.
You’ll be gone instead by the end of December, just a few days from now.
How do you react to that? If it were me, I would be thrilled to death. Thrilled beyond words. Excited to get my life re-started. Secretary Mattis isn’t married, so he doesn’t have a spouse or children to share his joy, but my guess is that he’s cheering along with his best friends, siblings and other extended family members.
Donald Trump well may have done Mattis the biggest favor he could imagine. He has spared the retired Marine general from the chaos of another two months working within an administration where the cadence is being called by someone who is clueless about how government works. He doesn’t know how to forge and maintain strategic alliances. The commander in chief has no inkling of how his policy pronouncements via Twitter disrupt the normal flow of information.
Mattis brought a retired Marine Corps general’s order and discipline to the president’s inner circle, to his national defense team. He will take it all with him when he departs on New Year’s Day.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump will keep on bumbling his way toward an uncertain future as our head of state.
The newly department secretary of defense will be relieved of the insanity and chaos that now masquerade as presidential governance.
James Mattis is likely smiling broadly.
I know I would be. So would you.