Donald Trump Did Two Things Right This Week

Kyle Mazza/NurPhoto via ZUMA

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

“Do you think Donald Trump has done anything right?” a friend asked me a few months ago. That was a tough one. Aside from trivial stuff, I think I eventually conceded that China really did deserve some tougher trade treatment and that the AT&T/Time Warner merger deserved to be stopped. Trump did both of these things for the wrong reasons, and in the case of China screwed up the execution epically. But I more-or-less supported the underlying concept behind both of them.

This week added two more items. First, Trump decided to withdraw from Syria. Once again, he did it for the wrong reasons, and there’s every reason to think he’s going to execute his decision as badly as possible. Still, I basically agree with him that we should never have been there and should pull out now even if it means accepting some ugly consequences.

Today brought the fourth item. After finally figuring out what James Mattis’s resignation letter really meant, Trump moved up Mattis’s final day in office to December 31 and replaced him with Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan. This was the right decision for two reasons. First, Mattis really had no right to set his own resignation date in the first place. He should either have consulted Trump about it or else simply resigned and allowed Trump to name the date. Second, Mattis wrote a truly brutal resignation letter. Trump was too dumb to figure this out for a while, but once he did he had no choice but to get rid of Mattis as soon as possible. It’s simply not possible to keep working with a Defense Secretary who has publicly declared that he believes his commander-in-chief is too soft on our enemies, too contemptuous toward our allies, and pays too little attention to national security and American values. Mattis may have said these things diplomatically, but he said them.

So there we have it: two more things Trump has done that I agree with. As usual, he did them badly and for the wrong reasons, but at least he got them right.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate