President Donald Trump's Chief of Staff spoke at length about the process in returning a US soldier home and the nature of how Gold Star families are informed of their loss. General Kelly has an intimate and experienced knowledge of that process, and I don't care to take away from that--except to call out that this was a very moving wrap, a sort of turgid tortilla, for a bullshit burrito. Because while he spoke movingly about the process, he also slammed into his address some actual indefensible nonsense.
Here are some excerpts of note:
Well, let me tell you what I told him. Let me tell you what my best friend, Joe Dunford, told me — because he was my casualty officer. He said, Kel, he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what he was getting into by joining that 1 percent. He knew what the possibilities were because we’re at war. And when he died, in the four cases we’re talking about, Niger, and my son’s case in Afghanistan — when he died, he was surrounded by the best men on this Earth: his friends.That’s what the President tried to say to four families the other day. I was stunned when I came to work yesterday morning, and brokenhearted at what I saw a member of Congress doing. A member of Congress who listened in on a phone call from the President of the United States to a young wife, and in his way tried to express that opinion — that he’s a brave man, a fallen hero, he knew what he was getting himself into because he enlisted. There’s no reason to enlist; he enlisted. And he was where he wanted to be, exactly where he wanted to be, with exactly the people he wanted to be with when his life was taken.
For one thing, this only corroborates the statement that was made by Congresswoman Wilson that Trump stated that her husband knew what he was getting into when he signed up for service. This particular bit only reinforces the statements of the people who heard the call. Also, talking about Rep. Wilson "listening in" was inaccurate, because it sounds like she was eavesdropping, and wasn't invited to share in that call by the widow because she, also, was a close friend of the deceased.
It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation. Absolutely stuns me. And I thought at least that was sacred. You know, when I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country. Women were sacred, looked upon with great honor. That’s obviously not the case anymore as we see from recent cases. Life — the dignity of life — is sacred. That’s gone. Religion, that seems to be gone as well.
Gold Star families, I think that left in the convention over the summer. But I just thought — the selfless devotion that brings a man or woman to die on the battlefield, I just thought that that might be sacred.
The member of Congress, once again, listened in by invitation of the family of the deceased. That choice has its own sanctity. The dignity of life? Don't make me laugh! We're talking about the dignity of death, and whether the dead also serve the CIC. For whatever use he has for them, for a kind of order they have no ability to refuse. Whether the currently serving POTUS gets to use General Kelly's son as a human shield.
And what about "Women were sacred, looked on with great honor" and "Religion, that seems to be gone as well"?
Are women uppity tarts now that we get to serve in congress and are without honor or sacredness? Are people just entirely falling down on the routine offering of "Merry Christmases"? Do either of those things have any fucking thing whatsoever to do with whether Trump tried to use the fallen soldiers to shield himself from criticism regarding the Niger mission, whatever that was, as if their blood expiated him from the basic sin of incompetence? Was the Gold Star Khan family really to blame for the debasing of their conversation? Why not Trump, who started it by demeaning immigrants, many of whom serve this country, and then lashed out at the Khans when he didn't like what they had to say?
It was a kind of dutiful clean-up where Kelly tried to mop up Trump's mess regarding what he had to say about fallen servicemembers, that became Kelly's mess about how he served a lying, stupid, unacceptably unprepared man.
That is still who Trump is, by the way. Nothing Kelly said changed that, either. It only made him a little more responsible for it.