Trump taps ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis for defense secretary
CINCINNATI, OhioU.S. President-elect Donald Trump said Dec. 1 that he has picked the tough-talking retired general James Mattis to be his defense secretary as he kicked off his post-election “thank you tour” by railing against globalization, promising the return of manufacturing jobs to American workers, and vowing to shut U.S. borders to some Middle East migrants.
The splash of hard news came during a sea of soaring - and then blunt - rhetoric from the 70-year-old Republican billionaire, who was speaking at his first post-election event following days of meetings about forming his cabinet.
“We are going to appoint ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis as our secretary of defense,” Trump told cheering supporters in Cincinnati, referring by nickname to the retired four-star Marine general who headed the U.S. Central Command, with authority over U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“He’s our best. They say he’s the closest thing to [World War II] general George Patton that we have,” Trump said, divulging his pick ahead of schedule after his transition team said there would be no more cabinet announcements this week.
Mattis will require both Senate confirmation and a special waiver of a law that bans uniformed military officers from serving as secretary of defense for seven years after leaving active duty.
At least one Democrat, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, already signaled she will oppose the waiver.
“Civilian control of our military is a fundamental principle of American democracy,” the senator tweeted from New York.
Trump’s surrounding himself with military figures - he has picked retired lieutenant general Michael Flynn to be his national security advisor and is considering retired general David Petraeus for secretary of state - has unnerved some observers who point to America’s long tradition of civilian government.
Speaking in an arena that was about three-quarters full, Trump rallied the crowd by repeatedly attacking the “extremely dishonest” media and invoking the populist message that resonated with millions of voters.
“There is no global anthem, no global currency, no certificate of global citizenship. We pledge allegiance to one flag and that flag is the American flag,” Trump said.
“From now on it’s going to be America first, okay?” Trump said as he stressed job-creation spurred by trade deals he intends to renegotiate, including the North American Free Trade Agreement.