Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had an epic response to Trump calling him 'overrated'

Lauren Frias
  • Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is OK with President Donald Trump calling him the "world's most overrated general" because the president also called Meryl Streep "one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood."

  • "I guess I'm the Meryl Streep of generals," Mattis said during his speech at the 74th annual Al Smith dinner - known for its comedic roast tradition - on Thursday.

  • On a more serious note, Mattis said that he doesn't like to dip into partisan matters, but he warned that we live in deeply divided times, invoking President Abraham Lincoln's Lyceum speech (which was made before he was president).

  • He also addressed US soldiers who fought with the Kurdish-majority Syrian Democratic Forces, who were allies against the Islamic State in the region.

Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is OK with President Donald Trump calling him the "world's most overrated general" because the president also called Meryl Streep "one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood."

"I guess I'm the Meryl Streep of generals," Mattis said during his speech at the 74th annual Al Smith dinner — known for its comedic roast tradition — on Thursday.

"And you have to admit, between me and Meryl, at least we've had some victories," he added.

The president attacked Streep after the award-winning actress criticized Trump in a speech she delivered at the Golden Globes in 2017. She condemned Trump mocking a disabled reporter, saying, "When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose."

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"I'm not just an overrated general. I'm the most overrated general," Mattis says. "I'm honored to be considered that by Donald Trump because he also called Meryl Streep an overrated actress. So I guess I'm the Meryl Streep of generals, and frankly that sounds pretty good to me."

Read more:Trump reportedly called Jim Mattis the 'world's most overrated general' in a chaotic meeting on Syria

Mattis, a retired four-star Marine Corps general, resigned his post as secretary of defense in December after Trump first expressed the possibility of pulling US troops in Syria. In his resignation letter, he said the president was entitled to "a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours."

In a contentious meeting between Trump and congressional lawmakers on Wednesday (where both Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the other was having a "meltdown"), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, invoked comments Mattis made about the withdrawal from Syria in a recent interview, The Washington Post reported.

Trump responded by calling the retired four-star Marine Corps general "world's most overrated general," who wasn't "tough enough."

Mattis' response included biting jokes: "I earned my spurs on the battlefield ... Donald Trump earned his spurs from the doctor," he said referring to Trump's medical deferment during the Vietnam war for alleged bone spurs in his heels.

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On a more serious note, Mattis said that he doesn't like to dip into partisan matters, but he warned that we live in deeply divided times, invoking President Abraham Lincoln's Lyceum speech (which was made before he was president).

He also addressed US soldiers who fought with the Kurdish-majority Syrian Democratic Forces, who were allies against the Islamic State in the region.

The Syrian Kurds, who Turkey says are linked to the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) (a group designated as a terrorist organization), are now facing an attack from Turkey in northeastern Syria. Northeastern Syria had been a Kurdish-controlled area of civil war-torn Syria, where detained Islamic State fighters were being held, backed with US special forces, who have since pulled out of the region at Trump's orders.

With the US decision to pull roughly 1,000 troops from Syria, Turkey launched a military operation.