Trump’s Worst Watcher – by Gail Collins – NYT

“Do you remember back when everybody thought John Kelly was going to calm down the Trump White House?Stop laughing. Although it has been another wow of a week, hasn’t it? We had one top administration official, Rob Porter, resigning over claims of domestic abuse regarding two ex-wives. Kelly defended Porter as “a friend, a confidant and a trusted professional” shortly before a picture popped up of one former Mrs. Porter sporting a black eye.

This was a little bit after Kelly himself made headlines for suggesting that some young immigrants couldn’t qualify for federal help because they were just “too lazy to get off their asses” and file some paperwork. Meanwhile the president, apparently unsupervised, was calling for a government shutdown and lobbying enthusiastically for an expensive new military parade. Because he saw one in Paris and thought it was cool.A good chief of staff advises the president against doing things that will make the administration look stupid or crazy. So, are we all in agreement that Kelly, retired general turned Trump chief of staff, appears to be … a failure? And sort of a jerk in the bargain?When Kelly first came over to run the Trump team there was near-unanimous expectation that he’d be the adult in the room. And indeed the chain of command got more efficient and some problem employees were evicted. However, there’s a limit to how long you can live off your laurels for firing Omarosa and The Mooch.”

Socrates is a trusted commenter Downtown Verona. NJ 15 hours ago
Here are John Kelly’s full ‘fine people’ remarks:

“I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man. He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it’s different today. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.”

“That (John Kelly) statement could have been given by Confederate general (and unrepentant rebel) Jubal Early in 1880,” said Stephanie McCurry, history professor at Columbia.

“It’s the Jim Crow version of the causes of the Civil War. It tracks all of the major (revisionist) talking points of this pro-Confederate view of the Civil War.”

“The South wanted a separate nation where they could protect slavery into the indefinite future. That’s what they said when they seceded. That’s what they said in their constitution when they wrote one,” said McCurry.

“This is profound ignorance; that’s what one has to say first, at least of pretty basic things about the American historical narrative. I mean, it’s one thing to hear it from Trump, who, let’s be honest, just really doesn’t know any history and has demonstrated it over and over and over. But General Kelly has a long history in the American military,” says historian David Blight.

It turns out there are no ‘fine people’ in the Trump Administration.

1168 Recommended

David Lindsay Jr. Hamden, CT Pending Approval
I wanted to quibble with Gail over her words, “It’s hard to remember many times that Kelly’s outspokenness helped the president out of trouble. After the Charlottesville tragedy, he did look depressed while Trump blathered an off-key defense of the Nazi-friendly marchers. But later when Kelly had a chance to comment himself, he offered up a theory that the Civil War was caused by “the lack of an ability to compromise.””
Socrates above has a better response than mine, but the quibble remains. There is some truth in what John Kelly said. I remember reading one famous historian who wrote, One of the great causes of the Civil War was that both sides underestimated the seriousness of the other side. Both sides thought the other side would collape or negotiate after the first gunshots were fired. In other words, both sides had a kind of arrogant stupidity, which actually, has been a trademark of American foreign policy debacles in the last half century. Think Vietnam and Iraq. An ability to compromise with the political opposition requires some humility, and the intelligence to realize that the truth is hard to discern if you happen to be human. As Sun Tsu wrote, one of great laws of war is to know your enemy as well as you know yourself. If you can’t easily win, don’t engage in warfare.
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David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at The TaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

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