Monday's HOT MIC
They are not, or not necessarily, economic conservatives. Top brass are men and women who were largely educated in, and came up in, a system that is wholly taxpayer-funded. Their primary focus is that the military have what it needs to do the job. Whatever tax rates do that, do that. They are not economists, they don’t focus on Keynesian theory and supply-side thought.
On social issues they generally tend to be moderate to liberal. I have never to my knowledge met a high officer who was pro-life. They largely thought Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell a reasonable policy, but they’re realists: Time moves on, salute and execute. They don’t want to damage or retard their careers being on the wrong side of issues whose outcomes seem culturally inevitable. You don’t die on a hill that is not central to the immediate mission.
They are as a rule not deeply partisan. Those who work in the Pentagon have to know how to work with both parties and negotiate their way around partisan differences. (Enlisted men in my experience are more instinctively conservative, though often in interesting ways.)
They say personnel is policy, and I've largely found that to be true. Based on Noonan's assessment, Kelly's agenda, to the extent he has one, could be largely focused basic competence, which wouldn't be a bad thing. She adds: "Beyond that, a good guess is that Mr. Kelly will not be especially interested in partisan differences; he will not be ideological. He will guide Trump in the direction of: Solve the problem." In other words, don't expect him to be the driver of the Trump train. More likely he'll be the one running ahead clearing debris and explosives from the tracks.