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October 19, 2017
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John Brummett: A job for the Marines

This article was published October 12, 2017 at 12:14 p.m.

How screwy is American politics? It’s really screwy. Hyper-screwy. Scary-screwy.

The country is being run currently by Marine generals after a bloodless and benevolent modified coup d’état that liberals find themselves supporting and being thankful for.

“I never thought I’d be counting on the politics of a Marine general,” a good Little Rock liberal in the Hillcrest neighborhood said at the coffee shop the other morning.

What most of us had sensed has now been described publicly by retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, once a Trump favorite.

Having nothing to lose, considering that he’s leaving after next year and Trump has trashed him on Twitter for being a weakling too cowardly to run again, Corker has said publicly in recent days that President Donald Trump is … let’s see … a reckless juvenile locked in a reality-show culture who puts lies on Twitter and foments chaos at the White House and could cause World War III if not contained by the adult supervision of two Marine generals acting not for their aggrandizement but from a sense of duty.

Those would be White House chief of staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis — with occasional help, Corker has added, from a former Exxon chairman, embattled Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

No Republican has come forward to dispute Corker’s assessment. A couple have criticized him for verbalizing the truth they all knew and suggested that he has personal resentment about not being made vice president or secretary of state.

Asked to respond to Corker’s description of Trump’s White House as “adult day care,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell replied only with kind general words for Corker.

There is public anecdotal evidence to indicate that Corker — no less than chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — is on target.

Kelly took over the White House, promptly threw out the most blatantly ridiculous aides and seized authority over Oval Office entry. He has the train running well-enough except when the man-child president writhes free of his leash to speak or tweet.

Kelly cannot watch Trump all the time, which is the scary part.

Mattis and other generals paid no attention when Trump put on Twitter that transgender persons were banished from the military forthwith. While Trump tweets and utters typically hollow tall talk about getting the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal, Mattis tells Congress it is in the country’s best interest to stay in the Iran nuclear deal.

So, pay no attention to the president. Just pray that the generals can fix things.

For his part, Tillerson, trying to pursue diplomacy regarding North Korea — the one the man-child president talks of, well, nuking, apparently — has reportedly called Trump a moron, perhaps a blanking one, to very little argument.

If one must worry about anything, worry about the strength of the leash to which the president is attached. Worry, too, that public discussion of the Marine generals controlling him will cause the megalomaniacal and preposterous second-place president to huff up like the emotional imp he is and try to prove that nobody controls him.

Personally, as one taxpayer and voter, I call on Kelly and Mattis and Tillerson to pull eight-hour baby-sitting shifts and to sit on Trump if necessary. I embrace the Henry Kissinger directive during Richard Nixon’s crazy final days, which was to check with him first if the president ordered a nuclear strike.

This preposterous Trump presidency bears major historical context for myriad reasons, one of which is that it may show us whether the country’s systems and spirit are so strong it can survive a moron-in-chief, not to call any names the secretary of state won’t personally deny using.

One epic historical moment has not yet arrived. It would be this president’s breaking free of the generals and other handlers. It would be this president’s posing such an imminent threat that even the Republicans still going along with him, mainly in hopes of getting rich people’s taxes cut, would have to decide whether to resist him.

For the moment, it’s a job for the Marines.

Like my daddy the Marine told me, the Marines always go in first for the hard jobs.

John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, was inducted into the Arkansas Writers’ Hall of Fame in 2014. Email him at jbrummett@arkansasonline.com. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.

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