Kelly’s appearance may have been compelling because of John Kelly, the man; but it mattered because it was one of the most powerful advisers to the most powerful man on earth, using his personal experience and gravitas to attempt to lay a political controversy to rest — by characterizing those who had raised it, including a member of Congress, as violators of something 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. [You have to be shitting me — ed.] That’s obviously not the case anymore, as we’ve seen from recent cases. Life was 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. I just thought the selfless devotion that brings a man or woman to die in the battlefield, I thought that might be sacred.”
But the distinction in demeanor between Kelly and his boss — and subsequent difference in how much they’re respected by the press — masked some Trumpian tendencies of Kelly’s own. In his umbrage toward Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), who listened to Trump’s call with the Johnson family, he told an ugly story about Wilson’s “empty-barrel” bragging about funding an FBI office — a story that turned out to be, in many particulars, untrue.
Kelly’s tactics may not be Trump’s tactics. But his enemies are Trump’s enemies. As long as Kelly remains in this White House, he is helping to prosecute President Trump’s culture war — a war in which the other side is seen as people who don’t love or respect America enough to see it made great again.
Kelly is a more credible messenger, as far as the Washington press corps is concerned, for the message that the actions of the American state are beyond question. That doesn’t mean he’s right.
I’m so old I remember when Kelly was supposed to be a Moderating Influence (TM).