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Marine Corps Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis himself once said, "You can't allow people to avoid the brutal facts. They start living in a dream world, it’s going to be bad.”
One person living in a dream world is former Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney national security advisor John Noonan, who published an article in The Daily Beast suggesting that “this man [Mattis] can save us from Trump—and Clinton.” While Mattis has served his country with distinction, the idea that he could become president in 2016 is nothing more than wishful thinking.
For one, it is probably too late for Mattis to get on the ballot in many states. In a March 18 interview with Vox, Elaine Kamarck, director of the Center for Effective Public Management at the Brookings Institution and author of the excellent political guidebook “Primary Politics,” said, “There’s almost no way [an independent candidate] can still get on the ballots. I don’t know what people are smoking. This is truly a pipe dream.”
Getting Mattis on the ballot in all 50 states would require collecting nearly a million signatures from voters across the country, according to an analysis by Ballotpedia. The first deadlines are rapidly approaching, with Texas (80,000 signatures) arriving first on May 9, followed by North Carolina (also 80,000 signatures) a month later on June 9, and then the rest of the country in a flood of deadlines throughout July and August. The sheer scale of this effort makes it nearly impossible for an independent candidate to mount a serious campaign with such a late start. A write-in campaign would be even more difficult to organize, and seven states ban them altogether. A prospective “Mattis for America” campaign would spend so much time, money, and energy simply trying to get on the ballot, they wouldn’t be able to focus on persuading voters to choose him once those ballots get handed out.
Furthermore, the effort to convince the public to vote for Mattis would be far more challenging than Noonan pretends. Noonan attempts to compare Mattis to former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, but this comparison is seriously flawed. Eisenhower was the official nominee of the Republican Party, having won the Republican primary. In a general election with Donald Trump as the Republican nominee, Mattis would not benefit from the Republican party apparatus working on his behalf, Trump would. It is unclear where Noonan expects Mattis, a political novice, to find funding or experienced staff to help him with his campaign. There is a reason why most real and potential independent candidates such as Ross Perot and Michael Bloomberg are extremely rich; they have to be.
Mattis would have to work hard and spend a great deal of money in order to tell voters who he is in time for the election. Outside of the military community, Mattis has next to no name recognition. And the military community is much smaller today than it was in Eisenhower’s time, when more than 9% of Americans fought in World War II. Eisenhower was well-known to the public as the supreme allied commander who led us to victory over the Nazis. Mattis is a brilliant general, but his legacy is less singular than Eisenhower’s. He was merely one general among many who have served in key roles in the War on Terror, and he cannot claim to have seen the war to its conclusion like Eisenhower could.
The Iraq War is also not exactly a glorious, decisive victory like World War II, despite the accomplishments of Mattis and the brave troops who fought under his command. It is unclear how producing a general who commanded our forces in Iraq will resonate with voters when voting for the Iraq War is a liability among liberals and is denounced as a disastrous boondoggle even by conservatives. No one blames the military for the outcome of Iraq, but neither is it a legacy of success on which to base a presidential campaign.
Yet candidate Mattis would have little else to run on. As Michael Bloomberg discovered, there is little ideological room on the left in the race for a candidate more centrist than presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Nor is Clinton’s base particularly eager for an alternative. While she is loathed by conservatives, Clinton is actually quite popular among Democrats and most Democratic voters tell pollsters they would be satisfied with her as her nominee. Candidate Mattis would draw votes almost exclusively from among the ranks of conservatives unhappy with Trump, which would simply increase the chances of a Clinton victory. It is difficult to imagine why Democratic-leaning voters would abandon a certain victory in order to choose Mattis in the hopes of a stalemate that will be decided in the House of Representatives with unknown results. Noonan cites a supposed “enthusiasm gap” in the Democratic primary, based on comparative voter turnout rates, but there is actually no evidence that turnout in the primary correlates with turnout in the general election.
On the Republican side, despite outcry from political establishment, polls show there isn’t a particularly large anti-Trump sentiment among voters either. A recent New York Times poll found that only 17% of Republican voters would “not support Donald Trump if he were the Republican nominee.” The same poll found that support for Trump was actually more enthusiastic than support for his chief rival, Ted Cruz. Nineteen percent of Republicans said they would refuse to support Cruz if he were the nominee, while only 29% said they would “enthusiastically support Ted Cruz,” compared to 35% for Trump.
Furthermore, while there are real concerns about foreign policy challenges like ISIS, this has largely been an election about domestic issues like the economy, income inequality, health care, immigration, and race relations. Many of the presidential debates have given little attention to foreign policy and defense, and voters do not list national security as being among the top issues they care about most. There is, simply put, no large constituency of voters interested in a military general as an alternative candidate, whether that be Mattis, or anyone else.
A Mattis campaign would bear no resemblance to Eisenhower’s landslide victory in 1952. Instead, it would be like more recent campaigns such as Gen. Wesley Clark’s embarrassing showing in 2004, or former Sen. Jim Webb’s 2016 campaign for the Democratic nomination, which failed to gain any traction.
Marines like me will always hold Mattis in high regard, but the Warrior Monk will not be the next president of the United States. Those are the brutal facts. It’s time for John Noonan to stop living in a dream world.
‘Take what’s inside and get it outside’ — Air Force psychologist reminds airmen of mental health resources
Kirtland Air Force Base isn't much different from the world beyond its gates when it comes to dealing with mental illnesses, a base clinical psychologist says.
Maj. Benjamin Carter told the Journal the most frequent diagnosis on the base is an anxiety disorder.
"It's not a surprise, but I anticipate about anytime in the population in America, about 20% of the population has some form of diagnosable anxiety disorder, and it's no different in the military," he said.
Leading the way among the anxiety disorders, he said, were post-traumatic stress disorder "or something like panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder."
The DNA of a niece and nephew, who never met their uncle, has helped identify the remains of the Kansas Marine who died in WWII.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced that 21-year-old U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Raymond Warren was identified using DNA and circumstantial evidence. Warren had been buried in a cemetery in the Gilbert Islands, where he was killed when U.S. forces tried to take secure one of the islands from the Japanese.
The Battle of Tarawa lasted from Nov. 20 to Nov. 23, 1943, and claimed the lives of 1,021 U.S. marines and sailors, more than 3,000 Japanese soldiers and an estimated 1,000 Korean laborers before the U.S. troops seized control, the agency said.
Arizona lawmakers are vowing to fight a plan by the Air Force to start retiring some of the nation's fleet of A-10 Thunderbolt II ground-attack jets — a major operation at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base — as part of a plan to drop some older, legacy weapon systems to help pay for new programs.
U.S. Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., a former A-10 pilot, and U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., both vowed to fight the move to retire 44 of the oldest A-10s starting this year.
During a press briefing last week, Air Force officials unveiled plans to start mothballing several older platforms, including retiring some A-10s even as it refits others with new wings.
MOSCOW/SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea, whose leader Kim Jong Un was filmed riding through the snow on a white stallion last year, has spent tens of thousands of dollars on 12 purebred horses from Russia, according to Russian customs data.
Accompanied by senior North Korean figures, Kim took two well-publicized rides on the snowy slopes of the sacred Paektu Mountain in October and December.
State media heralded the jaunts as important displays of strength in the face of international pressure and the photos of Kim astride a galloping white steed were seen around the world.
North Korea has a long history of buying pricey horses from Russia and customs data first reported by Seoul-based NK News suggests that North Korea may have bolstered its herd in October.
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A high-profile local Taliban figure who announced and justified the 2012 attack on teenage Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai has escaped detention, Pakistan's interior minister confirmed a few days after the militant announced his breakout on social media.
Former Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan, who claimed responsibility on behalf of his group for scores of Taliban attacks, proclaimed his escape on Twitter and then in an audio message sent to Pakistani media earlier this month.
The Pakistani military, which had kept Ehsan in detention for three years, has declined to comment but, asked by reporters about the report, Interior Minister Ijaz Shah, said: "That is correct, that is correct."
Shah, a retired brigadier general, added that "you will hear good news" in response to questions about whether there had been progress in hunting down Ehsan.