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Friday, January 18, 2019

Silly me, here I’d been fantasizing about a soft military coup preventing the Braggart-in-Chief from starting World War III. Surely the Pentagon has procedures for removing emotionally-incapacitated commanders, and Trump’s generals, as he calls them, must have made contingency plans.
Or maybe not.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says that arguing with a four-star Marine general like White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is almost sacrilegious. Americans haven’t always thought so. I had two uncles who’d served under Gen. Douglas MacArthur—one in the Philippines, the other in Korea. They considered him a vainglorious blowhard who was reckless with his men’s lives.
They’d have agreed with President Harry S. Truman’s explanation for why he’d cashiered MacArthur in 1951: “I fired him because he wouldn’t respect the authority of the President,” Truman told Time. “I didn’t fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that’s not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail.”
Service as grunts in the Pacific had also persuaded my uncles that going into Vietnam was folly. They were keen to convince me that it wasn’t necessary to go to war to be a man—advice that, like Donald J. Trump, I was eager to hear. No bone-spurs here, merely educational deferments.
I do not apologize.
History teaches that while military virtues are real—duty, honor, sacrifice and courage—so are military vices: chief among them authoritarianism and an inability to admit error. Generals spend the first half of their careers polishing apples, and their command years getting their apples shined. That can lead to an inability to see other people’s point of view—particularly those of lower rank.
Hence Gen. Kelly’s unfortunate role in Trump’s latest degrading Twitter feud—exchanging insults with a congresswoman in a silly hat over the president’s ill-fated attempt to console a 23 year-old war widow.
Ill-fated because this president utterly lacks compassion, and pretty clearly bungled his effort to deliver the script Kelly offered him. The general’s dignified, moving description of a friend’s advice about how to talk to bereaved families evidently came out very differently in Trump’s mouth.
Sgt. La David Johnson’s widow Myeshia recalled the president saying that her husband “knew what he signed up for, but it hurts anyways. And it made me cry. I was very angry at the tone of his voice, and how he said it.”
One can certainly question Rep. Frederica S. Wilson’s motives for making a political issue of so intimate a moment, but everybody who overheard the exchange on speaker-phone as Sgt. Johnson’s people drove to the airport to collect his remains heard it the same way.
Trump struck them as cold and unfeeling.
At that point, a normal man—even a normal politician—would apologize for expressing himself clumsily, praise Sgt. Johnson’s heroism, offer further condolences to the families of all the Green Berets killed in Niger, petition God to bless the United States of America, and put it behind him.
But that’s now how Donald J. Trump rolls. So he began attacking the “WACKY” congresswoman, and sent his pet general out to double down on her. Or maybe Gen. Kelly volunteered.
Either way, he gave a lacerating account of a speech delivered by Rep. Wilson at the dedication of a new FBI building in her district in 2013.
“A congresswoman stood up,” Kelly told reporters,“and in a long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there and all of that and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building, and how she took care of her constituents because she got the money, and she just called up President Obama, and on that phone call, he gave the money, the $20 million, to build the building, and she sat down. And we were stunned. Stunned that she had done it. Even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned.”
Trouble was, apart from the fact that Rep. Frederica Wilson did, indeed, speak at the FBI building dedication, everything Kelly said about her speech was completely false—and was proven so when the Florida Sun-Sentinel published a video recording.
Wearing her trademark cowgirl hat, Wilson said nothing about securing funding for the building, because she hadn’t. She never mentioned President Obama at all. She did praise GOP House Speaker John Boehner and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who helped her to get the building named for two fallen FBI agents whose heroism she extolled at length.
I doubt Kelly lied, but something about Rep. Wilson clearly set off the retired general. Democrat? Woman? Black woman? Or maybe it was just the damn hat. Whatever, he owes her an apology, but I doubt she’ll get it.
See, when generals go off half-cocked, everybody has to salute.
But John Kelly’s not in uniform anymore.

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111 responses to “Kelly: When A (Retired) General Goes Off Half-Cocked”

  1. rvn_sgt6768 says:

    There’s no doubt in my mind that he lied. I watched him utter every one of them during his briefing and I also watched the video he referenced. Those were lies he told plain and simple and he has not apologized for them yet so his lies were intentional not a slip of the tongue or miss-remembering. They were lies told to hurt others by a man who has the same racist views as his boss. Period.

    • Independent1 says:

      Being a Republican requires one to lie – Lying is the only way anyone can realistically back today’s conservative ideologies; history has shown that conservative governance is a categorical failure; only lies can refute history.

  2. Dominick Vila says:

    I don’t believe Gen. Kelly’s speech was motivated by a spontaneous, personal, decision. I am convinced that his decision to defend his boss was planned, and probably ordered, by none other than The Donald. I also believe that the story about Rep. Wilson came from Trump, or one of his closest associates. They used Kelly to defuse a political faux pas made by Trump. It didn’t work, and it actually made matters worse, not only for Kelly, but for Trump as well. Unfortunately, there is nothing Trump can say or do that will persuade his supporters that the comments and actions that characterize Trump’s behavior, and his lack of character, humanity, and maturity are destroying our values, our society, democracy, and our credibility.

    • FireBaron says:

      Unfortunately for General Kelly, he has capped a successful military career by becoming the apologist-in-chief for the most inept, unprepared and unqualified President in US History. Kelly’s boss makes Ben Harrison, Warren Harding and Sam Grant look like paragons of political virtue by comparison.

  3. bobnstuff says:

    What can be done when the White House become a generator of lies and false statements. As a nation we will be lucky if we survive then next three years. I once respected if not agreed with Gen. Kelly but the mighty have fallen and he has just become another shill for Trump.

  4. It’s not a hard and fast rule that as you get older you must become rude and insensitive. Yet, Kelly, Trump, a host of “farts” in Congress, and others seem to operate as though it’s required.
    Kelly’s reputation is stained beyond repair; Sarah, though still relatively young, wants to join the ranks of the boorish and dotard among Conservatives; and Trump is so far beyond the pale of decency that he may as well be on Pluto.
    At least with the Benghazi tragedy the Administration and staff behaved admirably despite the GOP’s desire to look like buffoons. There were no childish tweets from President Obama, no insults hurled by the Sec. of State, Hillary Clinton, as she was shamelessly blamed for lack of clairvoyance to foresee what rogue terrorists were thinking of carrying out.
    Racism, poor upbringing, and a lack of sincerity in their belief in Jesus is what motivates Trump to be the way he is, compels Kelly to make an ass of himself front and center, and for Sarah to shamelessly behave like some political harlot at Trump’s behest.

  5. The lucky one says:

    “You know, when I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country,” he said. “Women were sacred, looked upon with great honor. That’s obviously not the case anymore as we see from recent cases.” _ John Kelly

    Yes Mr. Kelly and the public and leaked private behavior of your boss is a very strong case to prove your point. Pity you don’t seem to grasp that. Apparently Truman’s estimation of the intelligence of many generals is as true today as it was then.

  6. idamag says:

    Sarah Huckabee Slanders, did you know that the New Testament of the Bible condemns violence and war? Did you know that Christ said, “Blessed are the peacemakers…?” Did you know the Bible also says, “Live by the sword, die by the sword…?” Doesn’t sound like Jesus considered war mongers sacred.

    • The Bible is a book which Sarah hasn’t taken the time—nor Trump—to crack open, let alone read the contents and understand what the intent of the words are.
      What you cite is right on, yet unfamiliar to many who claim to be Christian. Those “few” Muslims who subscribe to fanaticism have a similar problem, although they get an “A+” on the mechanics of reciting the 5 obligatory prayers.

  7. mellowjohn says:

    “Generals spend the first half of their careers polishing apples, and their command years getting their apples shined.”
    love it. i might have gone with a kissing asses metaphor, but that’s just me.

  8. johninPCFL says:

    Bareback Kelly went out and lied to the country to prove his obeisance to the Resident, plain and simple. He has a job to do (whitewash every utterance of the Obese Orange Dotard), and works hard to do it with perfection, even when lying is required.

  9. Budjob says:

    It would appear that Trump “associates” General Kelly included,are destined to take the American public on a tour of the nations sewer systems in a glass bottom boat!

  10. Bill Smith 999935 says:

    Tick, tock libs.

  11. Independent1 says:

    “I doubt Kelly lied, but something about Rep. Wilson clearly set off the retired general.”

    What?? Kelly is a Republican! All Republicans know how to do is lie!! He’s a pathological liar just like Ryan and McConnell and Trump and Cruz and Rubio and Graham and Sanders and on and on and on and on and on!!!

  12. bojimbo26 says:

    And Mr Kelly is just another Trumpy liar .

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