The Shameful Downfall of a
If White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is not ashamed of his conduct during a press conference last week, he should be. In addition to his role
as chief of staff, Kelly is also a four-star general and a Blue Star family. Kelly’s son was killed in action by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in
2008. During the press conference, Kelly launched a vicious, personal attack on Florida Representative Fredericka Wilson. Wilson was riding
in the limousine with the family of Sergeant La David Johnson who was one of four soldiers killed in an ambush-style attack in Niger.
While the Johnson family was en route to claim the body of the fallen hero, a phone call came in from the president to Johnson’s widow,
Myeshia. Also present in the limousine was a long-time family friend, Representative Fredericka Wilson. With the phone on speaker,
Representative Wilson heard the commander-in-chief say, “He knew what he signed up for.” The inartful and inarticulate condolence caused
Myeshia Johnson to break down in tears.
The president denied making the statement to Myeshia which prompted Wilson to go public with what she heard. Wilson then came under attack
from the White House. Trump began accusing the congresswoman of “fabrication.” He then sent Kelly out to condemn the congresswoman as
well. During his statement, Kelly referred to Representative Wilson as an “empty barrel.” Kelly’s derogatory remark was not lost on many who
have viewed this particular administration as being demeaning and mean-spirited towards minority lawmakers. Wilson characterized Kelly’s
statement as racist. Kelly would later explain to Fox News that he uses the “empty-barrel” phrase to refer to people as liars. Kelly was emphatic
about how stunned he was at Wilson's comments.
Two years ago, Kelly was present for a speech that Wilson made for the dedication of a new FBI building near Miami. Kelly said from the White
House press room podium, “and a congresswoman stood up, and in a long line of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there and
talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for the building.” Kelly went on to make other remarks about Wilson that once fact-
checked, turned out not to be true. Kelly lied to the American people about the statements that Wilson made at the behest of a president who lies
nearly every time he makes a statement. Now, he has Kelly, who was once considered an honorable man, lying for him. The multitude of proven
lies coming out of this, “White House of Lies” is unprecedented in our nations' history and is very damaging to our democracy.
But Kelly did not stop with his attack on Wilson; he went on to opine about how some things used to be sacred. He said that when he was
growing up in the 1950’s, “Women were sacred and looked upon with great honor.” Really? Apparently, Kelly no longer sees women as sacred
when they stand up to liars. And we all know how our president feels about women, so there is no real need to elaborate on his conduct toward
them. Plus, Kelly grew up during a time when marriage was a bar to prosecuting men who raped their wives and fortunately for us, now it is
not, even though nearly half the states in the country make it difficult for a woman to prosecute a husband.
Among other things that Kelly mentioned that used to be sacred were Gold Star families, of which he is one. He went on to say that he felt he
would have left during the Democratic Convention last summer after the Khan family spoke at the convention. Trump would also assail the
Khans who are also a Gold Star family due to their support of Hilary Clinton.
Due to his loyalty to the president, General Kelly has disgraced himself and has done a tremendous disservice to the men and women who give
their lives in defense of this nation. Our thoughts and prayers must remain with the four families who lost their loved ones in Niger. And I hope
that Kelly will remember that a real American hero would never find a reason to denigrate, dehumanize or demean any other American citizen
for any reason.