The Corner

About General Mattis

I’ve read about a half-dozen articles about whether retired Marine general James Mattis should run for president as an independent if Trump wins the nomination. (These three articles, for example.)

His boosters are conservative Trump opponents. A lot of them have been arguing that Trump is not a conservative — that he doesn’t have conservative views or a conservative record — and that he doesn’t know much about government policy. He can’t, for example, say much more than “lines around states” about health care, even though he thinks it’s one of the top responsibilities of the federal government. That’s not the entirety of the conservative case against him, but it is an important part of it.

With that in mind: What do we know about General Mattis’s views, and his familiarity with a broad range of non-military issues? Where does he stand on abortion, guns, taxes, health care? I’m not seeing answers in those articles.

I have no doubt that General Mattis has had a more commendable career and life than Trump has. And, yes, desperate times, etc. But the great flaw in this campaign is not that it has lacked a candidate whose appeal boils down to “he’s great and we should trust that he’d do great things as president.”


Ramesh Ponnuru — Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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