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Friday, March 22, 2019

After all the sound and fury and infantile tweeting, what have we learned from the controversy over the president’s call to Sgt. La David Johnson’s widow? We still don’t know much about why he and his three fellow Green Berets died or what the U.S. mission may be in Niger. But we again discovered something about Donald Trump that should have been obvious for a long time: Getting too close to him will eventually ruin anybody’s reputation.

In this instance, the permanent damage was done to John Kelly, the retired Marine Corps general who serves as White House chief of staff. Brought in to rescue this debacle of an incompetent and ill-intentioned administration, Kelly was well respected despite his role in implementing Trump’s heartless, bigoted immigration policies at the Department of Homeland Security.

His dubious record both there and in the White House, where he plainly failed to curtail the worst excesses of this presidency, were mostly blamed on Trump. Indeed, Kelly evoked sympathy for the impossible nature of his job.

As a Gold Star father, who lost one of his two Marine sons seven years ago in Afghanistan, Kelly was entitled to a much deeper kind of sympathy. That tragic sacrifice naturally enhanced his earned authority as a four-star flag officer.

Kelly’s authority began to wither, however, minutes after Kelly stepped before a White House podium to rescue Trump from his own mess — and to attack Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) for revealing the president’s insensitive “consolation” of Johnson’s widow Myeshia. Rather than disproving Wilson’s account, Kelly confirmed that he had given Trump talking points that coincided precisely with her recollection — and that the president, coldly devoid of compassion, had flubbed it.

Clumsy as it was, Kelly’s attempt to explain that incident was excusable and even understandable, as the necessary duty of a presidential aide. He may well have felt responsible in some way for Trump’s phone-call fiasco. But then he went a step further, with the blithering arrogance and venomous excess that are so typical of this presidency.

Only a true Trumpster could complain morosely, as Kelly did, that America no longer reveres women and Gold Star families — as if the president he serves were not notorious for disrespecting and demeaning both. And only a true Trumpster would then embark on a nasty, wholly inaccurate assault on the character of a critic like Wilson — as if demeaning her would somehow excuse Trump.

Kelly claimed that Wilson had illicitly “listened in” on Trumps conversation with Myeshia Johnson.But she only happened to have been present, as a close family friend and mentor of Sgt. Johnson. Kelly accused Wilson of grandstanding at the dedication of the FBI building in Miami. Kelly called her “an empty barrel” and derided her as “selfish,” saying that her self-serving remarks had “stunned” and “appalled” the audience.

Video of that event showed Kelly was lying, or at best misremembering — and proved that Wilson had done nothing like what he described. On that same day, in a speech Kelly described as “brilliant,” FBI director James Comey had singled out Wilson for praise because she had acted with such alacrity to ensure that the Miami building was named for two agents gunned down in the line of duty.

What made Kelly’s angry denunciation of Wilson so Trumpish was that even when he had been proved utterly wrong, he sent word to the press that he “absolutely” stood by his inaccurate statement. And Trump press secretary Sarah Sanders compounded the offense by warning that nobody should cast doubt on a four-star general, as if we live in Pinochet’s Chile instead of a country where freedom to criticize public officials is constitutionally guaranteed. That is the country and the constitution that Kelly, his sons, and Sgt. Johnson all swore to protect.

He served Trump poorly in this disgraceful episode, which they could have resolved so easily, with far better results for the president and the country. He could have urged Trump to express regret if Myeshia Johnson misunderstood his words or intentions. He could have acted with dignity and restraint himself, instead of petulance and condescension. He could have promoted unity and respect rather than the usual angry division.

But then he wouldn’t belong in Trump’s White House.

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32 responses to “Now We Know John Kelly”

  1. timmfr30 says:

    he’s as dirty as trump…no turning back

    • Dapper Dan says:

      And that truly is heartbreaking to learn. I thought with John Kelly he was no nonsense and wasn’t going to lower himself by defending trump himself. He regrettably has lost any semblance of remaining neutral while keeping trump a bit more under control. Nope he broke another General

      • dpaano says:

        He’s going through “his generals” like hotcakes! Pretty soon, he won’t have ANY generals that he can call his own!!

  2. Arie says:

    I never bought into the narrative that Kelly was an honorable man of high integrity, as soon as he joined theTrump administration. A man with these distinctions would never want to work for a monster like Trump. Now we have proof that Kelly is just another one of Trumps’s lying enablers. Shameful!

    • Dominick Vila says:

      I still respect his service, and honor the sacrifices he and his family have made. Unfortunately, he succumbed to pressure, joined the most narcissistic, arrogant, racist, and ignorant Commander in Chief in U.S. history, and lost credibility when he decided to repeat a lie that came, more than likely, from the man he reports to. As a minimum, he should apologize publicly for the lies he said, but I doubt his boss will let him do that. The best thing he could do, to save what little is left of his integrity and credibility, is resign. Neither he, nor Mattis, Tillerson, McMaster, or Pompeo will be able to control or moderate the psychopath in the Oval Office. Trump is exhibiting the same kind of behavior he has shown throughout his life, and he is not going to change now, at a time when he sees himself as an Emperor whose decisions and actions cannot be questioned.

      • Theodora30 says:

        His trashing of Representative Wilson shows Kelly was not an honorable man before he joined Trump. His statement about her speech which he attended was viscious and clearly reflected his reaction to her speech at that time, not some spin concocted to defend Trump. I would bet that what he claimed she said was what he heard that day. People filter what they hear through their own biases and Kelly was so appalled by having an uppity woman, worse a black woman, whose speech patterns are not those of the elite, address an audience of his peers that he did not even bother to listen, but instead projected his own prejudices onto her and her speech.

        I listened to all of his remarks as well as the entire video of her very generous speech, up to the point where the audience, largely FBI and other law enforcement officials, gave her a standing ovation. His nostalgic yearnings for the good old days when women were regarded as sacred – kept out of elite schools and jobs, left with no recourse if they were abused – the good old days of school segregation in his hometown of Boston is evidence of his bias. It has been widely reported that Kelly is a strong supporter of Trump’s extremist immigration policies, which is more evidence that he is bigot.

  3. Wrily says:

    If Kelly had a shred of honor left he would resign.

  4. latebloomingrandma says:

    Stockholm Syndrome?

  5. FT66 says:

    No one knew Kelly’s true color before this debacle happened. Now we know the man very well.

  6. Beethoven says:

    Gen. Kelly was portrayed as being the one strong bastion of honesty and decency in this administration, but now he has been shown to be no better than the rest. We now have a president and White House staff who, without exception, simply cannot be trusted to tell the truth on any subject at any time.

    • dpaano says:

      And who’s ONLY goal is to totally dismantle all the good that the previous administration did just because they can! It’s pretty sad really, especially for the rest of the nation who will suffer the consequences of their revengeful actions!

  7. docb says:

    This is truly sad…The creep, drumpf, has turned honorable men to liars and fools…

    • dpaano says:

      …..and even a couple of women!

    • Sand_Cat says:

      Were they really honorable?
      I don’t agree has magical powers to change people; perhaps we awakened the evil within and thus inspired them to drop the sham, but “[turning] honorable men to liars and fools” seems to me far beyond this idiot’s limited powers, or even more limited interest in anyone else.

      • docb says:

        It is about the power of the office he holds due to the russians and the electoral college not him personally…The military, especially, hold reverence and deference to the commander and chief title. ‘ Patriotism’ has shielded many ODIOUS actions over the centuries not just in the US.

        Yes, he is marginal, a liar, and crook and incompetent . However, the miltary ‘chain of command’ edict is at work here. No magic.

        • dpaano says:

          I worked for many a general in my time in service….I respected the office even if I didn’t respect the person in it. It’s an unfortunate military thing, but respect for the individual MUST be earned outside of the office they hold! I have NO respect for many of the generals working for this pseudo president….nor do I have ANY respect for him or his sycophantic cabinet!

  8. Richard Prescott says:

    I had respect for Kelly up until that stupid defense of the indefensible. He could have kept to facts himself, but he chose to play the Trump card and lie about some easily verifiable facts.
    Trump corrupts all around him. Kelly’s best defense is to leave while he still has some dignity left. Continuing to serve a joke like Trump will do Kelly no good.
    I can understand some parts of career officers feeling that they can serve their country in their later years, that it is an honor to continue to serve the country.
    The only trouble is that when someone like Trump is there you become immediately tarnished. You have to defend the Presidency, trying to ignore the person.
    As with most everything about Trump, it is a failure.

  9. cthetruth says:

    I no longer have respect for Kelly. For him to stand at that podium and lie makes me question all those in charge. I thought as long as Kelly was there to keep this moron in line there was some hope for this country. Kelly morphed into Trump and no longer deserves our respect. He is another one that sold his sold to the devil.

  10. johninPCFL says:

    “Video of that event showed Kelly was lying, or at best misremembering — and proved that Wilson had done nothing like what he described.” – Bareback Kelly is fully inside the domain of the Obese Orange Resident. He now represents the absolute worst nature of humans, as evidenced by his new owner, the Obese Orange Morangutan.

  11. dpaano says:

    Isn’t it amazing how many women and men have lost their valuable reputations working for this man? Why haven’t any of them learned that working for Trump is NOT a wonderful thing?

    • sigrid28 says:

      The popular theory that former generals Kelly, Mattis, and McMaster are risking their stellar reputations in order to guard the nation from Trump’s potential misuse of the nuclear codes has lost a large portion of its currency as a result of this shameful incident. Now that these former generals (as well as the entire cabinet) have shown themselves to be complicit with Trump, no one can fail to recognize the real dangers posed by Trump’s presidency OR assume that they are in check. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe more Republicans in Congress will sense the urgency of opposing Trump and his cronies, as have senators McCain, Corker, and Flake. My fear is that something very terrible is going to happen before we are rid of this threat to American institutions and to our status as a member in good faith of the community of nations. The canary in the coal mine may be the tragedy in Niger in which we had to sacrifice four of our best. How ironic that the Trump administration’s botched response to this incident and its aftermath may be what fully reveals the state of corruption and incompetence Trump’s team has been trying to conceal from the public.

      • Sand_Cat says:

        The Republicans in Congress are as tone-deaf as Trump; maybe more so, if that’s possible.

      • dpaano says:

        And isn’t it interesting that Trump gave “his generals” carte blanche to do what they wish….just so he won’t have to take the blame when something goes terribly wrong as it did in this case! Where are all the senators screaming “Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi” about this SAME thing. They were all gungho against Hillary for pretty much the same thing, but they are very silent when it happens with THEIR president! I think the Democrats should ask for a FULL INVESTIGATION of this whole thing! The blame lies with the Commander in Chief….I don’t care if he gave the generals the okay to do what they wish; the buck STILL stops at HIS desk!

  12. Da FrogMeister says:

    ” Kelly was lying, or at best mis-remembering”.
    I’m sorry, but I’m getting sick and tired of people “Mis-remembering” or using “Alternative facts”. They are lying. It’s time to quit sugar coating the crap that these people are spewing and call it what it is, LIES.
    By the way, Kelly may have been a 4 star marine general, but he has retired, which means that he is no better or no worse than the other 99% of the non-military people in this country. Rank may have its privileges, but his rank now is PFC (Proud Freaking Civilian) Kelly. Therefore, he is subject to the same standards and the same criticism as any other civilian.

  13. Daniel Jones says:

    God save us from the Trump Administration.

    • Sand_Cat says:

      He hasn’t saved us from much of anything else; I wouldn’t count on him.

    • dpaano says:

      Personally, if I were God, I would have given up on this country for electing such an idiot to run it! I certainly wouldn’t blame him/her at all! We can only hope that isn’t the case….things have to get worse before they get better (as they say). Not sure how much worse they can get, but I’m trying to be optimistic.

  14. Cynthia Baron says:

    The worst thing that Kelly did seemed at first to be sensitive and meaningful – when he described the process of dealing with a dead soldier’s body. The description of the way they reverently dress the body and adorn it with medals seemed designed to comfort, but remember that the Widow had just been told that her husband’s body was so badly damaged that his funeral had to be closed-casket and she couldn’t see any part of him. How could Kelly, who has been through this agony with the loss of his son, be so callous and insensitive as to talk about a ritual her husband couldn’t have because of his injuries?

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