White House chief of staff John Kelly (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
I didn’t know much about the man before he became the so-called grown up in the room in the train wreck that is the Trump administration. Former General and present White House Chief of Staff John. F Kelly looked the part of the stoic no-nonsense, call it like he sees it kind of guy. A steely-eyed battled worn soldier, a man of honor charged with reigning in the Trump circus. What could go wrong … right?
I didn’t vote for Trump I’ll admit, but this is my country and I hoped he could surprise me and the 3 million plus that voted the other way that he could bring the country together and maybe get something done for average Americans. Bringing in John Kelly seemed like a step in the right direction at the time.
The consensus on both sides of the political aisle was that this is the man for the job. He would not only protect the country from the disaster that is Donald Trump but maybe, just maybe, focuses the impish mind of the President on getting something done for the country.
Then came the botched condolence phone call and Kelly started talking and almost instantly the backlash from his false statements concerning remarks made by Florida Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, and his refusal to use her name, but instead choosing to refer to her as an “empty barrel” tarnished his once impeccable reputation.
In a matter of a few short weeks the myth, the legend, and the sterling reputation of John Kelly have been damaged beyond repair. On Oct. 19, the then seen but seldom heard White House Chief of Staff stepped into the white house briefing room to do damage control for his President, instead, he set off a media whirlwind.
In an attempted to defend Donald Trump’s calamitous condolence call to Myeshia Johnson the widow of fallen hero SGT. La David Johnson Kelly leveled false attacks against Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) Kelly accused her of fabricating the now corroborated account of the conversation and called her “An empty barrel”.
For days, and then weeks after the incident, many expected Kelly to if not publicly, privately apologize to Congresswoman Wilson for the attack. He refused to do so, and in true Trump fashion, he doubled down on his previous remarks. In an interview on Fox, where else, Kelly was asked about the disparaging remarks he made about Congresswoman Wilson.
He was asked if he thought he anything to apologize for and the answer was pure Donald Trump, “Oh, no,” Kelly replied. “No. Never. Well, I’ll apologize if I need to. But for something like that, absolutely not. I stand by my comments.”
I thought John Kelly was supposed to be the one influencing Donald Trump, not the other way around. The real picture of John Kelly is becoming crystal clear rather it be his willingness to lie without apology, his lack of shame, or his outlandish belief that the Civil War was fought because of “lack of compromise” as he stated during the same Fox appearance.
Kelly also praised Gen. Robert E. Lee as being an honorable man during that interview, but the most striking of all his comments made was his insistence that “Men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand,” during the Civil War a reference that resembles the disastrous remarks made by Donald Trump after the Charlottesville’s Rally, where he defended neo-Nazis and white nationalists by saying that there were “fine people” on both sides of the protests.
Here is a news flash for General Kelly. Robert E. Lee was a slave-owning traitor to our country, he committed treason and fought to bring down our government in order to preserve slavery. Honorable men don’t do that.
As for the so-called fine men and women of the south during the civil war, they thought African Americans were less than human beings and that it was not only their right, but it was heavenly ordained to hold them in bondage. These are not the actions of men and women of good faith.
The façade that was the sterling General has fallen away and what we are seeing now is the mere man behind the myth. A much smaller man. A man with less gravitas. A man whose views and remarks resembles those of the man he works for. General John Kelly may, in fact, be a good fit for the Trump administration but if that is so, where does that leave us as a country?