Stop praising General Kelly. The man’s a liar.
Over the past couple of days, my news feed has been filling up with stories about whether President Trump should call the families of slain service members or shouldn’t call them, whether previous presidents have made such calls, and what the President did or didn’t say when he decided to make a call.
Frankly, none of that is really any of my business. I’ve never lost a loved one in combat. I saw it mostly as another reason to pile on Trump — an effort that has only served to dilute critiques that are far more egregious and warranted.
General John Kelly, the President’s chief of staff, took the opportunity to come to his boss’s defense in what — at first glance — seemed a very measured and sincere way.
That was before the General was caught in a blatant, baldface lie about Congresswoman Ferderica Wilson. General Kelly alleged that the congresswoman had previously used the dedication of an FBI building in her district to talk up her role in securing funding for the project and basically pat herself on the back.
Problem was that none of that was true, and a video of the congresswoman’s actual speech completely exonerated her of Kelly’s charge.
Shortly after his speech, I started seeing people heap praise on General Kelly. I myself thought well of his remarks. But once the evidence contradicting his claim came out, all of that goodwill went out the window. He had lied and gotten caught. He had defamed someone in an effort to discredit her and support his boss. All the respect I had for his many years of service vanished in the blink of an eye.
When John Kelly was named chief of staff, I had hoped some of his integrity would rub off on his boss. Instead, the opposite happened. General Kelly told a lie of convenience to paint the narrative he wanted to promote. He ceased being a man of honor and descended to the level of his boss. He smeared the good name of someone else because it was a means to his intended end. His own reputation — and that of his boss — were more important in his eyes than the congresswoman or the truth.
When you tell a blatant, baldface lie in the middle of remarks that are universally praised, that kind of calls the entire speech into question. Or it should.
Lying because you think there is no video evidence to refute that lie doesn’t excuse it either. And that’s the only credible explanation for why he said it at all. General Kelly made it abundantly clear that his version of events stuck out in his mind and affected his entire memory of that day. Were he to try walking that back now and say his memory was hazy would only exacerbate the situation.
No, he lied. Pure and simple. And in the process, he tarnished not only his own good name but also the luster of those stars he worked so hard to earn through years of honorable service to the country.