Gen. James Mattis gets his revenge on Trump for calling him 'overrated'

Just one day after Donald Trump called former Secretary of Defense James Mattis the world’s most overrated general, Mattis hit back at the annual Al Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York, turning what was supposed to be an insult into quite the compliment.

“I mean, I’m not just an overrated general, I am the greatest, the world’s most overrated,” Mattis said, later adding, “I’m honored to be called 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.” Then in another jab at the president, Mattis added, “And you do have to admit that between me and Meryl, at least we’ve had some victories.”

Mattis went on to take a shot at Trump’s multiple draft deferments during the Vietnam war saying he’d earned his spurs on the battlefield while Trump earned his from the doctor. He also said the only person in the military Trump doesn’t think is overrated is Colonel Sanders.

But it wasn’t all fun and jokes. Near the end of his speech, Mattis quoted Abraham Lincoln’s Lyceum Address which, even though given in 1838, is still as relevant as ever.

“It was not the foreign aggressor we must fear, it was corrosion from within. The rot, the viciousness, the lassitude, the ignorance,” Mattis said quoting Lincoln. “Anarchy is one potential consequence of this. Another is the rise of an ambitious leader, unfettered by conscience or precedent or decency, who would make themselves supreme.”

And finally, Mattis, who resigned last year over Trump’s plan to withdraw troops from Syria, finished by thanking troops for their service, and reminding everyone exactly who we abandoned when Trump finally went through with that plan.

“We owe a debt to all who have fought for liberty,” Mattis said, “including those who tonight serve in the far corners of our planet, among them the American men and women supporting our Kurdish allies.”

CNN Tonight With Don Lemon airs weeknights at 10 p.m. on CNN.

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