Scott has posted General Kelly’s statement regarding President Trump’s condolence call to the Gold Star family of Sergeant La David Johnson, who was killed in Niger. Scott rightly says: “Given the highly personal nature of General Kelly’s statement and the accompanying emotion, it makes for compelling viewing.”
The statement casts Rep. Frederica Wilson, who attacked Trump for his phone call, in a horrible light. Kelly powerfully expressed his dismay that Wilson would try to make political hay over Trump’s solemn attempt to console the Gold Star family — an attempt Trump made only after consulting with Kelly, who has been on both ends of these calls.
In addition, Kelly spoke of an occasion when, during the dedication of a Miramar, Florida Federal Building named in honor of two fallen FBI agents, Wilson used her speech to praise herself for getting the monument funded. Kelly didn’t mention the grandstanding congresswomen by name, but there was no doubt that he was referring to her.
Even Wilson must realize that her attempt to gain political advantage from the call to Sergeant Johnson has backfired. To put it plainly, Kelly mopped the floor with her.
Wilson’s response was to claim: “John Kelly’s trying to keep his job. He will say anything.”
Questioning the sincerity of Kelly, a Gold Star parent himself, was not the way for Wilson to go. No reasonable observer of Kelly’s statement will conclude that it was insincere. No reasonable observer will conclude that he was “saying anything” in an attempt “to keep his job.”
Who is the phony? The General who speaks with such dignity and deep emotion or the politician who wears funny hats? The answer is obvious.
One needn’t parse Kelly’s statement to demonstrate its sincerity. Watching the video is enough.
I note, however, that Kelly’s discussion of how presidents deal with families whose loved ones have died while serving our country in the military was even-handed. He did not criticize Trump’s predecessors for their handling of these cases. He was not willing to “say anything.” He was not Trumpian.
Even Charles Blow, the lefty, Trump-hating New York Times columnist, figured out how this one went down. He tweeted:
I keep telling y’all about John Kelly. He signed up to make Trump’s craziness look less crazy. That make Kelly himself VERY dangerous.
Kelly is no magician. He can’t make true craziness look less crazy. What he did today was help us understand why Trump’s statements in his condolence call, however they were construed by the family, were in line with the approach that, in Kelly’s experience, is most likely to bring some small measure of comfort in an impossibly tragic situation.