I feel like there’s a word for admiring the World War II-era German military ...
Trump reportedly wished American generals were more like Nazis
Former President Donald Trump once bragged that he liked his generals to look like they were straight out of “central casting.” “If I’m doing a movie, I’d pick you, general,” he famously told former Defense Secretary James Mattis shortly after his inauguration. As it turns out, the movie he had in mind may very well have been infamous Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will, given a newly published excerpt from journalists Peter Baker and Susan Glasser’s forthcoming book The Divider: Trump in the White House 2017-2021.
“You fucking generals, why can’t you be like the German generals?” Trump allegedly raged at former Marine Gen. John Kelly, his then-chief of staff, at one point in his first year in office. Trump reportedly went on to insist that he deserved their personal loyalty and fidelity to himself first, and not the country.
Ah yes, those German generals we all know and love. Care to be a bit more specific, Mr. President?
“The German generals in World War II,” Trump clarified, per Baker and Glasser’s book, after a baffled-seeming Kelly reportedly asked whom Trump meant.
Now, it’s worth pointing out two separate but equally important things about Trump’s alleged demand:
- There’s a word for “the German generals” of World War II. It’s “Nazis.” The president of the United States allegedly wanted his top military brass to be more like the Nazis. Seems pretty bad!
- If it’s true, I don’t think Trump actually thought this one through. Not only did the Germans, y’know, lose World War II, but, as Kelly reportedly pointed out, a good chunk of those same generals didn’t really like their boss all that much!
“You do know that they tried to kill Hitler three times and almost pulled it off?” Kelly retorted, per Baker and Glasser.
Of course, as we’ve since learned, Trump’s pathological need for absolute obedience would remain a throughline of his time in office (and beyond). So on a purely technical level, Baker and Glasser’s revelation, if true, isn’t all that surprising. However, if you cast your mind back to the hazy days of Trump’s first year in office, well before the overwhelming malaise of Trump fatigue had fully permeated our every waking moment, news that the president had demanded Nazi-like loyalty from the military would have been an Extremely Big Deal™. Accordingly, it now enters the ignoble pantheon of “things that would have been nice to know at the time, instead of saving it for a glossy hardcover after the fact.”
Speaking of which, have you heard the one about Trump’s toilets? As The New York Times’s resident Trump palace intrigue reporter Maggie Haberman shared Monday, we now have evident proof of earlier reports that the former president had a habit of ripping up handwritten notes and attempting to flush them down the tubes.
The pictures of the messages, handwritten in bold Sharpie ink (which as we know is a favorite of Trump’s), were shared with Axios on Monday morning as part of the rollout for — you guessed it! — Haberman’s forthcoming book, Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America. And while the pictures themselves aren’t all that fascinating, unless you find generic office building toilet fixtures interesting, they are the sort of thing that, under other circumstances, would probably be worth publishing in, say, the major newspaper for which she works, and not only years later to drum up book sales. It’s almost enough to dampen what would otherwise be unadulterated delight at seeing hard-right Rep. Elise Stefanik’s name floating in a toilet bowl. Alas ...
In any case, as with these types of revelations, we once again find ourselves in the “ah well, better late than never” sort of depressive meh-ness of it all. Sure, it’s nice to know now, but I think we’ve passed the point where it could actually have done any good.