No one can say Donald Trump doesn’t know his audience.
On a Tuesday visit to California’s Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, the president heaped praise on the leathernecks in the crowd — as well as those in his White House — by stating one truth that’s been proven countless times in the world of warfare in the past 240 years.
Messing with the Marines is a bad, bad idea.
Trump has made no secret of his admiration for the armed forces — even as a candidate for the presidency, he highlighted veterans issues and made a point of including veterans groups in speaking engagements.
During his times in the White House, he’s given the armed forces’ senior commanders greater latitude in the war on terror, as well as signed a defense budget bill that included a much-needed raise for the rank and file.
But judging by his selections for top personnel in the White House, Trump has shown a definite preference for one particular branch of the services.
Not only is Defense Secretary James Mattis a former Marine general, but other top members of Trump’s administration are too, including Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, and Trump’s director of the Secret Service, Randolph Alles.
And to his Marine audience on Tuesday, Trump explained why.
“Our administration is stacked with Marines because Marines are the kind of people you want at your side. And trust me — you don’t ever want to be on the other side of a fighting Marine,” he said.
“It’s trouble. It’s painful,” he added.
Obviously, the president intended no disrespect to the other armed forces.
The Army, the oldest and largest branch, has been doing the lion’s share of the country’s fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But the Marines — the second smallest branch of the armed forces, bigger only than the Coast Guard — have an outsized place in the nation’s history for a reason.
As Trump put it:
“The Marines never give up, never give in. Never retreat, and never, ever surrender.”
If that sounds like a certain contender for the Republican nomination in spring 2016, or a certain presidential candidate in the fall of that year, or the current occupant of the Oval Office, there’s a reason for that.
Of course, it’s not likely Trump would have given a speech like that for a graduating class at West Point, or on board the USS Carl Vinson, but the man knows his audience.
And as his staffing decisions in the White House have proven, the president appreciates the Marines.
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