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As this year winds down, Mattis remains the good soldier, seated at Trump's left and guarding his flank, trying to avoid the political fracas of this presidency.Mattis' only problem may be this bipartisan popularity: He's the Trump official who's admired by people who don't like Trump. Trump himself seems respectful of the retired Marine general he likes to call "Mad Dog".The chivalrous Mattis is an unlikely partner for Trump. Mattis clearly abhors the political parlor games that are part of Trump's Washington.Trump insiders still predict that Tillerson will depart sometime in the new year, and that he will be replaced by CIA Director Mike Pompeo. The open, gregarious Pompeo would be an easier fit with Trump, and he appears to have developed a solid working relationship with Mattis as well. Trump wants military options, too, and the Pentagon is working hard to deliver them.Will a new secretary of state be as effective a partner for Mattis as Tillerson has been?
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