Goodbye and good riddance, John Kelly

One thing I have learned to do during the Trump administration is largely ignore the predictions of pundits about two things: what special prosecutor Robert Mueller is doing or plans to do, and personal changes in the White House and Trump administration generally. The former is a waste of time because Mueller seems to be very good at running a tight, leak-free ship so that all speculations lack any basis, and the latter because predicting who will stay and who will go in the Trump administration is a fool’s game when the decisions are being made by some who seems to care little for competence and due process and seems to go by moods and whims. It is best to just wait for an actual event.

There have been rumors for months that White House chief of staff John Kelly would leave or be fired and it finally came to pass yesterday, with Trump announcing that he would leave at the end of the year. Kelly is a former general and as the media often does, it falls over itself in ascribing to military people sterling qualities of discipline and probity whether or not they deserve them. But let us be clear: Kelly was an awful person and no one should mourn his departure, whether it was voluntary or not.

Mehdi Hasan corrects the media hagiography by describing all his many failings, and says that Kelly was a bully, bigot, and liar he is.

Why did political and media elites pretend he would be a sober and moderate figure, a check or restraint on the president, rather than Trump’s nasty and brutish mini-me?

Yes, he was quoted calling the president “an idiot” multiple times, according to NBC News; yes, he was quoted by journalist Bob Woodward describing the Trump White House as “Crazytown”; yes, he publicly underminedthe president by suggesting Trump had “evolved” on the issue of a border wall (spoiler alert: Trump hadn’t). So, yes, not unsurprisingly, all of this annoyed and upset Kelly’s thin-skinned master in the Oval Office, who — with the encouragement of his daughter — finally gave the retired general the big heave-ho over the weekend.

But let’s be clear: Kelly was never a “great guy”; never the “adult in the room.” He was a bully, a bigot and a liar; as racist and reactionary as his soon-to-be former boss. He was an enabler of Trump’s worst crimes and abuses — from the “unconstitutional” appointment of his crony Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, to the abduction of children at the U.S.-Mexico border, to the fake furor over the migrant “caravan.”

I think the verdict is clear. There are no honorable people in the top echelons on this administration and for the media to desperately look for ‘adults in the room’ who can be a check on Trump is to chase a chimera. All of them are sycophants and/or corrupt and/or incompetent and enablers of a racist and bigoted president.


  1. kestrel says

    It’s odd to me that people think Trump knows someone who would count as honorable. As far as I can tell, the people he knows are pretty much liars and thieves, they are his “peeps” and the people he is attracted to and who are attracted to him. It also amazes me that people have not yet figured out that Trump is impossible to please and therefore there will always be a big turnover of personnel with him. Because yes, he does not care about competence, he cares about whether or not people are aggrandizing and pleasing him.

    I would have thought people could figure these things out long before he became the president.

  2. says

    He has subordinates, who he rates as more or less totally submissive. Basically, he’s Dracula and all he wants around him are Renfields.

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