On Wednesday afternoon, during what Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer described as a “meltdown” by Donald Trump, the president is rumored to have called James Mattis the “world’s most overrated general”.
The remark came during a meeting with senior lawmakers, advisors and officials, following a stinging rebuke from the House, which voted 354-60 to condemn Trump’s decision to withdraw US forces from positions held by America’s Kurdish allies in Syria. That decision opened the door to a cross-border incursion by the Turkish military which has left hundreds dead and more than 200,000 displaced.
Trump would later tweet out a picture from the meeting which he captioned which something about “Nervous Nancy”, but the visual appeared to show Pelosi scolding Trump, his advisors and Republicans. The look on the president’s face was mercilessly lampooned on social media.
Schumer later confirmed reports that Trump besmirched Mattis, who resigned in December in no small part due to the president’s abrupt announcement that he intended to draw down the US presence in Syria entirely.
That announcement was seen as an overt concession to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and it effectively set the stage for what’s happened over the past two weeks.
Well, on Thursday night at the Alfred E. Smith dinner in New York, Mattis roasted Trump with a potent combination of humor and earnest criticism.
“I’m not just an overrated general. I’m the world’s greatest overrated general”, Mattis quipped, after enjoying a standing ovation as he stepped to the dais. “I’m honored to be called that by Donald Trump, because he also called Meryl Streep an overrated actor. So I guess I’m the Meryl Streep of generals”.
“I tried to bring some peace and order to the places with no organized government, chaotic and warring factions, irrational fears, and toxic hatred”, he went on to say, adding that although that was “hard work, it wasn’t until I started working in Washington, D.C., that I realized how easy I had it overseas in the combat zone”.
Mattis also called the president out for the coward that he is.
“I earned my spurs on the battlefield; Donald Trump earned his spurs in a letter from a doctor”, the general said, adding that “the only person in the military that Trump doesn’t think is overrated is Colonel Sanders”.