As is almost always the case with those who served as enablers for Donald Trump, once they leave the administration they try to distance themselves from him and his actions in order to regain some of the credibility, integrity, and self-respect that they shredded by their association with him. The latest to do so is former chief of staff John Kelly who now says in an interview that he should be judged not by the actions that Trump took while he served him but by what he did not do.
In the phone interview Friday, Kelly defended his rocky tenure, arguing that it is best measured by what the president did not do when Kelly was at his side.
Well, isn’t that special? What a convenient loophole-ridden yardstick to use because whatever he did support, such as the hardline stances on immigrants, Trump’s support for neo-Nazis after Charlottesville, and his own support of retaining Confederate memorials and the idea that the Civil War was not over slavery, there are always worse things that we could might imagine have happened.
So what awful things does he claim he actually prevented? Kelly says that he pressured Trump to not withdraw US troops from Afghanistan, Syria, South Korea, and to not withdraw from NATO, actions that Trump spoke favorably of while campaigning. Whatever one may think of those policy stances, it is noteworthy that Kelly is taking credit for subverting the issues that Trump campaigned on. In other words, Kelly is a fervent and enthusiastic member of the War Party and the things he takes pride in are those that continue that imperial mindset. No doubt this will make him a favorite of the War Party and the media and open doors for him.
Even administration critics see Kelly’s departure as worrisome, saying he brought hard-edged national security experience and the integrity and ability to stand up to the president.
“It’s a loss, there’s no question,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif).
“Now, it just seems to be a free-for-all,” said Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I). “There’s no real consistent figure that’s going to stand there and just make sure literally the trains run on time. I think that was one of Kelly’s major contributions.”
So why did he work for so long with Trump if, as he claims, he did not support him entirely?
Asked why he stayed 18 months in the White House, despite policy differences, personality clashes, the punishing schedule, and a likely lasting association with some of Trump’s controversies, he said simply: duty.
“Military people,” he said, “don’t walk away.”
But that bit of military bravado is also false because after all, he did walk way, didn’t he?
Peter Wade says that Kelly is also being disingenuous and outright lying in some of his statements.
The departure of a fervent advocate of military action and repulsive polices is not a loss, as senator Feinstein seems to think, it is a gain. What would make it better is if he disappeared entirely from the public scene. But alas, we can expect to see a book in the near future as he seeks to further ingratiate himself with the media and the War Party.