It must be hard to be a soldier, or, in Kelly's case, a Marine, serving under a President. A good solider - and by "soldier" I'm including sailors and seamen, airmen, and marines, but naming all is quite a mouthful! - knows that there are more duties than military preparedness and action, and that sometimes, the best support one can give one's commander in chief is in other ways... like, Colin Powell being dishonored in spreading the Bush administrations lies about Saddam Hussein and Iraq.
I say "being dishonored" because to say he dishonored himself would be unfair. He was told to spout a pile of bullshit, but refused. He provided only the information that he could verify, and it was weak, but he knew that, because it was spoken by, if you'll pardon the expression, "Colin fucking POWELL," it would be accepted more widely than if it had been another pile of bullshit given by Bush, Cheney, Rice, or any of the other fearsome liars claiming Saddam had an active WMD program. And he was a good soldier, a good man, and yes, he participated in a dishonorable action, but I can't blame him for serving the President, the office of the commander in chief for his entire Army career.
Kelly told a blatant lie during his remarks, that Frederica Wilson stood up and talked money, and getting money from President Obama, and serving her constituents by getting money, when she spoke of the fallen, and of her work in getting the building named to honor them. What is really bothersome about this lie is, it's a classic dog whistle. Black congresswomen, who, you know, probably serve black constituents, they're all in it for the taking. Did Kelly not know this? Did he know and just not care? Whatever the circumstances, remember: this is a lie, and there's no way to work around it, because Kelly claims his memory based upon an intense emotional reaction: he was stunned by this behavior. He alludes to how he was already disappointed in her, for reasons he doesn't state, but nevertheless, in spite of low expectations, he claims he was stunned.
My hopes are that Kelly is too naive to realize he was repeating a dog whistle, that he was just repeating a speech made by one of Trump's speechwriters, who know how to blow the dog whistle really well. But I'm still upset, because when Colin Powell was told to spread a steaming pile before the UN, he refused - he insisted on telling the truth as best as he could, while Kelly is reporting an event that never happened, but nevertheless "stunned him".
He lied. He knows he lied, because he knows darn well he wasn't stunned by something that never happened. And it's awful, because I remember hearing how, at West Point, a graduate recounted how they were taught not to lie or cheat, and not to accept those who do. I know for a fact that Marine officers are given the same notions of honor, because I know some proud Marines.
But it's worse than that. First, he blames a Federica Wilson for listening in on a conversation on speakerphone, with the phone held by a sargent. He knows darn well that it's not her fault for hearing it, but he elided that, so that he could attack her, for the crime of making his boss look bad.
And what did she do that was so horrible? She was furiously angry that Donald Trump hurt a war widow's feelings, both by making a clumsy statement, and by never so much as mentioning the name La David Johnson... as if Trump didn't even know the name, and as if La David Johnson just didn't matter.
Now, I'll give Kelly, and even Trump, this much: if you make a call to send your condolences, there's nothing much worse than realizing you screwed it up. I can't imagine how painful it would be to have that sick feeling that I wanted to say how saddened I was, and ended up adding to the family's grief.
I'd like to think that, if I were President, and if I had been the one who made a call that clumsy, that I would have my staff call her, and say that if she's so eager to cuss out the President, he's ready to take her call, and I'd let her speak her piece. And anything she said that was accurate, I'd agree with - and anything where she was wrong, I'd do my best to calmly explain why I felt that way. And then I'd say "you're right. It went badly. I feel sick about that, and you know what makes me feel even worse? That there's not a god damned thing I can do to make it better. And it sure doesn't help that you're out there rubbing my face in a tragic, but human, mistake."
You never know what you'd do in a tense situation until you're there, of course. But that's what I'd hope I do. This is one of the biggest things that makes me different from Donald J. Trump: I can admit I make mistakes. I can admit that I failed. I can admit that it hurts when I fail, and that I want to learn to do better next time, and wish like hell that I could make amends, but that I realize, sometimes you can't. Trump can't do that. I don't know whether he's too immature to do so, or whether his public persona forbids it, but he can't. Instead, he chooses to send out the attack dogs.
Not just an attack dog to attack her, of course... one who wants to throw out numerous dog whistles: a man who would claim that "women" aren't sacred, which some people think is a swipe at Weinstein, as if the military hasn't had problems with sexual assault between enlisted men and women - a betrayal of trust on an epic scale, yet far too often ignored.
He said that life is not sacred, presumably because the GOP base likes to call their politically motivated assault on abortion to be a battle for "life". And that's true, you know? When you try to turn "life" into a club, to beat people with, just so you can score political points, it's not sacred. You have to care about actual people, living breathing people, rich, poor, all creeds, all colors, all nationalities, before anyone will believe you revere "life" now. There's nothing sacred about a cheap political talking point!
Similarly, he says that religion isn't sacred, and I agree, again: religion has been made into a club to beat people with; if you demand civil rights, you'll have soi disant Christians say you're attacking their religion, even though their free exercise of Christianity is entirely unconstrained. You'll have many in the GOP claiming that Islam isn't a real religion. Anti-semitism is pretty widespread in the GOP, though it's hushed up whenever the subject of Israel appears. And, of course, if you're not in an Abrahamic religion, the GOP doesn't want to hear about it! Yes, that does dilute the sanctity of religion.
And now, he say that he hopes military service, and the sacrifice made by soldier, sailors, seamen, airmen, and marines, will remain sacred, while demeaning them, while using those sacrifices as a club to score more political points for his boss. You're right, General Kelly: keep doing that, and you'll wring the sanctity out, and leave it as another empty shell.
I don't like Donald Trump, and I'm glad to admit it. I don't like how Frederica Wilson spread news of his horrible foul-up, because there's a chance, however small, that he feels terribly about it. Sure, he's the one who tried to proclaim himself the best "consoler in chief" for military families, so he's the one who politicized it, but she still could have refrained. She was angry, and justifiably so, but she was angry over a personal, and human, matter, and it should have been handled on a personal, and human, basis.
If Trump had come out to express his sadness that he hurt Myeshia Johnson, if General Kelly had come out to say that he felt the President had tried to express the same feelings that he, himself, appreciated when hearing of his son; had Kelly reported he feels awful for his boss and his friend, well, that would have brought shame to Representative Wilson, and I hope she'd have risen to the occasion, and admitted she was wrong to make a public fuss over a private matter.
But that's not what happened. Instead, Kelly takes a page from Trump's playbook, stating he was stunned that she heard a call that was played over cell on speakerphone; lying about her; and throwing around racist dog whistles. He says he was stunned. General Kelly, I wish I could say that your behavior stuns me. But I already know your boss, and while I hoped you were better, and I am disappointed, I won't pretend, for a moment, to be "stunned".