My Dean is Better Than Trump’s Celebrity Secretary of State Reality Show
This year’s presidential election brought about some of the most controversial rhetoric – concluding with, for many voters and political experts, a shocking and unexpected result. It was surprising for everyone to witness that most “experts” provided erroneous predictions. Perhaps the most shocking part of this election, however, is that Trump was able to overturn ingrained, conservative and progressive campaigning traditions. Now he is in the transition process transforming the American presidency into his own narcissistic reality show for which my Dean, James Stavridis, has now auditioned. This week, Dean Stavridis visited the Trump Tower after being added to the short list for potential picks for Secretary of State. Unfortunately, my Dean fits perfectly into Trump’s newly created Celebrity Secretary of State show but not into Trump’s cabinet. More likely than not, Stavridis will not be selected as the winner of this reality show simply because he’s not a celebrity, he has a different view for America, he respects tradition, and also too many military officials have been selected already for key positions in the Trump administration.
Dean Stavridis, among the most commemorated public servants, the man who presided over NATO as the 16th Supreme Allied Commander, US Southern Command, and now the Fletcher School, most clearly embodies the classic concept of the honorable-statesman. He also holds various decorations and awards, including two awards of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal and five awards of the Legion of Merit.
Most recently, Stavridis came under the limelight after making the short list for potential vice presidential picks for Clinton’s candidacy. Here are some personal thoughts why Trump added Stavridis to his short list, why Stavridis accepted the meeting, and four reasons why he will not get selected as Secretary of State.
First, Trump needs to maintain all eyes on his Celebrity Secretary of State now. The more people he puts on his list, the more he puts people on edge, and the more attention that he gets.
For Dean Stavridis, public service comes first and politics second. He is willing to play Trump’s game, because even the slightest chance of getting selected and being able to influence American foreign policy is worth perusing. He would be willing to do anything to change the discourse of Trump’s foreign policy. This probably is a motivation driving others who have been mentioned for the post.
As in most reality shows, in Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice, the “celebrities come from a wide variety of different fields”, because it is critical to appeal to a wider audience. This explains why Trump would even consider Dean Stavridis, placing him on a list along with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, conservatives like Bob Corker, or private sector Exxon Mobile CEO, Rex Tillerson, or allow a Twitter fight between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. Trump’s appointments so far are either infamous or famous for their controversial positions. Given Trump’s actions so far, Dean Stavridis does not fit the profile of a businessman or a celebrity, and therefore will not get selected.
My second point relates to the common trends among Trump appointees. There are some common denominators amongst all of Trump’s picks; the most apparent of which are their controversial, conservative stances. CIA director Mike Pompeo became famous on the controversial Benghazi Committee, which targeted Trump’s presidential rival Hillary Clinton. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is an “arch-conservative southerner haunted by racially charged comments.” National Security Advisor Michael Flynn is known for his extreme statements that critics say, “border on Islamophobia.” Dean Stavridis, was on Hillary’s short list for vice president because his foreign policy outlook does fall into the neo-conservative agenda, therefore making him a misfit in the reality show line up.
Third, Trump’s untraditional actions include not allowing the press to travel with him, prior to the vote, threatening to refuse to accept the outcome of the election, asking a foreign government to intervene in our elections, and insulting veterans. He even threatened to ban an entire group of people from entering this country based on their religion. These are provocative, untraditional routes that have never been pursued by any presidential candidate in American history. Dean Starvidi’s career has been anything but controversial or untraditional.
Finally, Trump has already added a historically unusually large number military officials to his cabinet. He will not appoint a military official to the position of Secretary of State. Here is why: Trump has already filled his administration with generals in posts normally held by civilians. For Trump’s popularity contest, the U.S. military wins. A recent GALLUP poll shows that fully 73 percent of the American people have “great confidence” in the capabilities of the military. Trump’s foreign policy rhetoric so far has been about economics, not strategic defense. He advocates for rejecting free trade and backing tariffs, bringing American jobs back, punishing companies for taking jobs abroad, calling out China for “currency manipulation,” not financing NATO, requesting reimbursement for military assistance to other countries, and making Mexico pay for the wall. Before appointing another military official as the highest-ranking U.S. diplomat, he is more likely to select a businessman, like Rex Tillerson.
Everyone from government, private sector, academics, and every leader around the world is in an extreme state of uncertainty. And this not by chance. This is a deliberate Trumpian strategy to continue his narcissistic reality show. If Trump were really serious about his ever growing “short list,” of candidates for Secretary of State, he wouldn’t humiliate each candidate through the Trump Tower walk of shame, while the press sits on the first floor snapping pictures to build suspense for Trump’s Celebrity Secretary of State.
My dean’s willingness to play into Trump’s game demonstrates his humility and love for our country, as well as his hope that foreign policy can be better than a reality show. He is an admirable Admiral, a decorated dean, and a humble hero.
Camilo A. Caballero is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where he is specializing in international human rights law and human security. Camilo was born in Colombia and raised in the State of Georgia, and has devoted his educational career to the empowerment of underrepresented communities in the U.S. and abroad. Camilo serves as Director of External Affairs for the Harvard Journal Hispanic Policy, and as Co-founder and leader of the Fletcher Students of Color & Allies club.