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The tragedy of James Mattis

Defense Secretary Mattis has immersed himself in the thinking of the Roman philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius.

SD hosts press conference

 

Defense Secretary James Mattis has immersed himself in the thinking of the Roman philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius. It is his misfortune that he has wound up in the service not of someone like that meditative Stoic, but instead for someone who resembles Marcus Aurelius’s woebegone son, the Emperor Commodus.

Mattis really wanted his old friend and comrade Bob Harward at the White House. With that opportunity gone, I have to wonder how long Mattis will “tolerate ignorant persons, and those who form opinions without consideration,” to quote Marcus Aurelius.

I think it will be perhaps a year before Mattis heads back to the eastern Washington state food bank where, until the election, he volunteered.

Photo credit: Department of Defense

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com.

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