Game of Groans: The Defense Department Loses Another Defense Secretary

Daniel R. DePetris
Reuters

Daniel R. DePetris

Politics, Americas

In Trump’s Washington, we don’t get much comfort or normality. Instead, we get more confirmation hearings, more salacious accounts, more gossip, and more questions.

Game of Groans: The Defense Department Loses Another Defense Secretary

Four days ago, Patrick Shanahan participated in his only Beltway story. The exclusive report from Politico was a profile of sorts, a chance for the acting secretary of defense to make the case for why he is the right man for the job and why he should be confirmed.

We learned quite a lot from the story. Shanahan, for instance, was someone who likely didn’t expect the role when he first agreed to take the position of deputy secretary in 2017. All of that changed when James Mattis resigned last December, and he was thrust in as a replacement. Shanahan was in many ways learning on the job.

Like all cabinet members, politicians, and officials who call Washington home, the defense industry executive had his supporters and detractors. Shanahan’s critics called him superficial and uninterested in policy details, while his allies credited him with becoming an active proponent for the Pentagon on Capitol Hill. He was no Mattis, of course, but he wasn’t a placeholder either. President Donald Trump, in fact, nominated him for the position over other candidates.

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