Jim Mattis is just the latest in a string of leading lights from the conservative establishment to throw shade at Trump. As with others — the chief justice, a special counsel, various Republican lawmakers who hope to have a political future — the ex-Pentagon chief’s words are subtle, filtered through notions of duty, decorum, deference to history, the greater good.
Crack the code and you can sometimes see deep discomfort with Trump, the contours of a searing repudiation. In the view of many institutionalists of the right as well as the left, he is bulldozing values that America holds dear…
“The well-informed public understands what they’re saying and how deeply concerned they are,” said Cal Jillson, a political science professor and historian at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “The rest of the public might not get it.”
Says Eric Dezenhall, a crisis-management specialist who has studied Trump’s rise in business and politics: “In a fight between crassness and discretion in the new millennium, crassness will win every time.”