Victoria Coates, Trump’s new National Security hire in charge of strategy to combat Islamic terrorism, is an #Art Historian with zero experience in the Intelligence community, the State Department, the Pentagon, the military, or the federal government. This is not as odd as it seems. After all, the president doesn’t have any of this experience, either. Neither do many in his cabinet or in the West Wing. Even so, expertise in art doesn’t usually fit the profile for the job description of “senior director for strategic assessments on the National Security Council”; although Sen.
Ted Cruz of Texas saw fit to hire her when he ran for president last year to plan a defense policy against ISIS. It’s not certain what she contributed to his thinking, but he was quoted in a speech in Dec. 2015 saying, “We will carpet bomb them into oblivion,” which is a strategy of sorts.
In Trump world, do the lessons of history apply?
Adding to the weirdness is Coates’ particular area of expertise -- the Italian Renaissance. The leap from 15th century Rome to 21st century D.C. is hardly a stone’s throw. Her resume also reflects a particular love for the culture of the ancients. One way to demonstrate the incongruity of a fan of the Roman Empire tasked with devising a plan to keep America safe is to cite a letter written by 17th century painter Nicolas Poussin who she told the National Review was one of the artists she’d most like to hang out with on a desert island..
Given her love of the ancients, it’s not hard to understand why she’d favor Poussin. The artist also pined for the same era. As he said in a letter to his friend Paul De Chantelou, who served in the Louis XIV court, unlike the ancients, men in their day are lazy, eat and drink too much and don’t exercise and end up with bulging bellies. He longed for what he called “evenness and moderation in all things.” If those are the lessons that Coates will bring to Trump, she may prove to be his best hire.
Is Trump teachable?
One more thing. Her published books also point to her interest in Pompeii, the 6th century B.C. city in Rome, said to have burned while Emperor Nero fiddled. The implication of that saying was that the Roman leader wasn’t very good at his job and cared more about himself than his people. Maybe Coates can warn Trump. As she put it in a tweet, “You never know when an art historian will come in handy.” #National Security Council #Donald Trump