At first, the “adults” honorific was most commonly applied to the threesome of Tillerson, Mattis, and National Security Adviser H. Phrases like “the adults” or “the grownups in the room” seem on the surface to carry intuitive meanings but raise all sorts of questions that deserve scrutiny. Most importantly, what is the significance of the fact that most of Trump’s so-called grownups come from the military?
What does it mean to be an “adult” in Washington in general, or, in particular, under Donald Trump? To answer such questions, it helps to look at the history, both of the way the idea of “adults” has been used in Washington in the past and of the way military officers in the US have served in top civilian jobs.
Following the arrival of Donald Trump in the White House, the meaning of the words “adult” and “grownup” has undergone a subtle but remarkable shift.
They now refer far more to behavior and character than to views on policy.
It shows the male to female sex ratio as estimated by the United States' Central Intelligence Agency.
The timeworn metaphor has been used and reused ever since the earliest days of the Trump era, when Donald Trump was first putting together his cabinet.As defense secretary, Mattis has a cabinet job that keeps him across the Potomac River, running the US government’s biggest department, and Trump seems to allow him considerably more latitude than the other “adults.”Mattis, a former Marine Corps general who served as commander of America’s Central Command forces in the Middle East, has the satisfaction of knowing he has strong-to-intense support on Capitol Hill, where John Mc Cain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, let it be known at the start of the administration that he would serve as Mattis’s protector.Mattis has also been especially popular within the military.The “adults” were those who favored certain policies or approaches; those in need of “supervision” were the opponents of such policies.Thus, the metaphors amounted to a verbal sleight-of-hand, transforming political judgments into personal ones.