On Friday Sarah Huckabee Sanders, whom we’ve watched fritter away all credibility, then forfeit her self-respect, attempted to come to the aid of Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly—a man whose credibility and self-respect had endured for a longer period of time. By Friday evening the cancer that is Trump had beset him also.
Ms. Huckabee Sanders’s defense Friday was bland, pedestrian, and depressingly predictable; and I might have ignored it except a blog called Begging No Questions should point out a begged question. Here’s what she said:
“If you want to go after Gen. Kelly, that’s up to you. But I think that if you want to get into a debate with a 4-star Marine general, that’s something that’s highly inappropriate.”
So a belated congratulations to Ms. Huckabee Sanders for a perfect example of what begging the question really means: her argument was, in essence, that we should not confront a 4-star Marine general because we should not confront a 4-star Marine general. It’s like an accused murderer affirming his innocence by claiming he’s not the kind of person to murder someone. Or an elected president claiming he wouldn’t grab a woman’s crotch because nobody has more respect for women than he does. Or the same president who once refused to rent apartments to people of color claiming he wouldn’t do that because he’s the least racist person he knows.
Unfortunately Huckabee Sanders’s pathetic bootlicking and Trump’s loutish behavior have already obscured the real issue: four marines died in what can only be considered at this point a botched mission—if in fact it was a mission at all. That it happened during Trump’s watch (not that he watches anything other than Fox News) is less an indictment of him than of some military mind somewhere. Eventually the truth, or some variation of it, will come out.
But in the meantime we have been distracted into arguing about a revered 4-star general, gadfly Florida Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, and the grieving Gold Star mother of Sgt. La David Johnson (one of the marine victims), just as we were distracted from talking about police violence against young men of color and baited into a forum on the flag and the National Anthem.
Yesterday we heard that John Kelly should be given a pass because of his personal loss. (His son, also a marine, was killed in 2010 while on patrol in Afghanistan.) Nobody discounts the agony of that loss, and nobody denies his right to share that with the American people whom his son was loyally defending; but when Kelly gave in to the profound cynicism of his boss, a man who saw the opportunity to cover his own failures by attacking a Gold Star mother, the general forfeited that pass. And further, the stench of racism inherent in Kelly’s attack on Ms. Wilson, along with his assertion that there exists a military elite in this country who are somehow “better” than everyone else, not only sullies the honor of those who put their lives on the line daily all over the world, but assails the basic premise of our Constitution.
John Kelly may be a man of honor, but this past week’s events typify the essence of Donald Trump—a miscreant dragging his belly through the muck of his own moral squalor, and taking even the best of us with him.