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Buried at the bottom of a story on South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham’s plan to save healthcare, The Washingtonian reported a short anecdote from Graham that perfectly encapsulates the difference between former president Barack Obama’s military leadership and Donald Trump’s.
Early one morning, Secretary of Defense James Mattis called Trump to ask about a troop deployment in ISIS-held Syria, according to Graham.
“We’re asking permission to send 50 of our soldiers into a village outside Raqqa,” Graham quoted Mattis as having said.
“Why are you calling me?” replied Trump, “I don’t know where this village is at.”
Graham said Mattis answered that, “Well, that’s what we’ve done for the last 8 years.”
Graham said that Trump then asked who wanted to send troops to that village, and Mattis replied that a major who was first in his class at West Point had made the request.
“‘Why do you think I know more about that than he does?'” Trump replied, according to Graham. “And then he hung up,” said Graham.
For former Obama administration defense officials, this story highlights a stark contrast. Obama famously micromanaged the Pentagon, insisting on a very granular level of detail for even relatively minor military decisions.
“You know, the president is quoted as having said at one point to his staff, ‘I can do every one of your jobs better than you can,'” said former secretary of defense Robert Gates, who served under eight presidents, told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in 2016.