December 8, 2018


John Kelly Was Supposed to Bring Credibility to the White House. He Failed. (FRED KAPLAN, DEC 08, 2018, Slate)

[N]o tears should be shed for Gen. Kelly. Yes, he was lauded in the early months of his term as one of the "grown-ups in the room," the man who not only blocked Bolton but got rid of Steve Bannon and his white-nationalist sidekick, Sebastian Gorka. Kelly also talked a good game on broader issues, particularly immigration. In his confirmation hearing for secretary of homeland security, a job he held before Trump moved him to the White House, Kelly assured senators that he would speak "truth to power"; said that a wall on the Mexican border would not halt drug trafficking; disputed Trump's description of illegal immigrants as rapists and killers, saying most of them came here for "economic opportunity and to escape violence"; and firmly opposed the idea of detaining them without trial, noting, "I'm pretty committed to the Constitution."

Yet once installed at DHS, Kelly enforced Trump's crackdown on undocumented immigrants with gusto, and as chief of staff, he defended the separation of families. His intolerance of foreigners extended well beyond "illegals," opining in a behind-closed-doors meeting last year that the number of refugees to be let in to the United States should be reduced to "somewhere between zero and one."

Finally, he adopted--or maybe revealed that he shared--Trump's contempt for democratic institutions. In a speech at George Washington University in April, Kelly lambasted congressional critics of the crackdown on once-protected DACA children, saying that "they should shut up and support the men and women on the front lines." At a press conference in August 2017, he took questions only from reporters who knew Gold Star families, saying, "We don't look down upon those of you that haven't served," but "we're a little bit sorry for you, because you'll never have experienced the wonderful joy you get in your heart when you do the kinds of things our servicemen and women do."

When Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Florida Democrat, criticized Trump for his insensitive phone call to a constituent whose husband had been killed in battle, Kelly denounced her as an "empty barrel" and told a story about a self-serving speech she'd given at the dedication of an FBI building--a story that a video of her speech revealed was false. Kelly never corrected the record. When a reporter asked White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders about the contradiction, Sanders said it was "highly inappropriate" to question a four-star general. Kelly never dissociated himself from that absurd statement either--though others did. Another retired four-star general, David Petraeus, said on a weekend talk show, "We in uniform protect the rights of others to criticize us."

Posted by at December 8, 2018 5:11 PM