James Mann is a Fellow-in-Residence at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. His books include The Obamians: The Struggle Inside the White House to Redefine American Power and Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War Cabinet. (January 2018)
The greatest damage done during Trump’s first year concerns neither domestic nor foreign policy, but something far deeper: it is the harm he has caused to America’s political system and to the democratic norms that underlie it. No evaluation of the impact Trump has had as president could be complete without addressing his attacks upon the rule of law, upon notions of political and racial tolerance, upon national unity, upon the freedom of the press, upon civil discourse, upon truth itself. The result has been to fray the bonds that hold American society together.
What does it mean to be an “adult” in Washington in general, or, in particular, under Donald Trump? What policies do the “adults” favor? Where do they come from, and what do they believe? Most importantly, what is the significance of the fact that most of Trump’s so-called grownups come from the military? To answer such questions, it helps to look at the history, both of the way the idea of “adults” has been used in Washington in the past and of the way military officers in the US have served in top civilian jobs.