John Kelly: Late, But Better Than Never

At lunch a few days ago, a friend and I shared our distress over the current chaos of America’s political landscape. Both of us are women of “a certain age,” and both of us have difficulty wrapping our heads around the loyalty of MAGA Republicans to a man who is quite clearly–and dangerously–mentally ill.

My friend has always been a Democrat, but I spent 35 years as a Republican, which adds to my bewilderment. The Republican Party I worked for had its problems (there was always a racist, anti-Semitic fringe), but it also had a set of principles that have now been totally abandoned. Today’s GOP –now controlled by what was once its fringe–is in thrall to a man who repudiates virtually everything the party once stood for.

That includes respect for the men and women who serve in the U.S. Military.

In an interview that has been labeled “better late than never,”John Kelly, Trump’s former Chief of Staff, confirmed what most observers have surmised–that Trump’s “it’s all about me” worldview made it impossible for him to understand why people might sacrifice themselves for their country.

Kelly set the record straight with on-the-record confirmation of a number of damning stories about statements Trump made behind closed doors attacking US service members and veterans, listing a number of objectionable comments Kelly witnessed Trump make firsthand.

“What can I add that has not already been said?” Kelly said, when asked if he wanted to weigh in on his former boss in light of recent comments made by other former Trump officials. “A person that thinks those who defend their country in uniform, or are shot down or seriously wounded in combat, or spend years being tortured as POWs are all ‘suckers’ because ‘there is nothing in it for them.’ A person that did not want to be seen in the presence of military amputees because ‘it doesn’t look good for me.’ A person who demonstrated open contempt for a Gold Star family – for all Gold Star families – on TV during the 2016 campaign, and rants that our most precious heroes who gave their lives in America’s defense are ‘losers’ and wouldn’t visit their graves in France.

“A person who is not truthful regarding his position on the protection of unborn life, on women, on minorities, on evangelical Christians, on Jews, on working men and women,” Kelly continued. “A person that has no idea what America stands for and has no idea what America is all about. A person who cavalierly suggests that a selfless warrior who has served his country for 40 years in peacetime and war should lose his life for treason – in expectation that someone will take action. A person who admires autocrats and murderous dictators. A person that has nothing but contempt for our democratic institutions, our Constitution, and the rule of law.”

Kelly confirmed the accuracy of earlier reports that Trump had refused to visit the graves of American soldiers buried in the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris, saying “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” Trump said the 1,800 US Marines killed in the Belleau Wood were “suckers” for getting killed.

Perhaps the most eloquent rejoinder to that despicable attitude was in the widely-quoted retirement speech delivered by General Mark Milley. Without mentioning Trump, Milley explained America’s military patriotism.

“We are unique among the world’s militaries. We don’t take an oath to a country. We don’t take an oath to a tribe. We don’t take an oath to a religion. We don’t take an oath to a king, or queen or a tyrant or a dictator. We don’t take an oath to a wannabe dictator. We don’t take an oath to an individual.”

“We take an oath to the Constitution, and we take an oath to the idea that is America, and we’re willing to die to protect it,” Milley continued. “Every soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, Guardian and Coast Guardsmen each of us commits our very life to protect and defend that document, regardless of personal price, and we are not easily intimidated.”

You don’t have to be a fan of America’s bloated defense budget or unfortunate history of international meddling to respect the men and women who put themselves in harm’s way to serve the American idea. To view these people as “suckers” and “losers”–to call General Milley a “traitor”– can only be understood as the ravings of a mentally-ill man who has become increasingly unstable as he faces accountability for his own past criminality.

I wonder–if John Kelly had “come clean” at the time about the ravings of the ignorant narcissist he served, would it have made any difference to the MAGA cult?

Probably not.


  1. I am grateful that clear minded people in our military refused to participate in Trumps coup. He tried to get them involved but they stood firm. It could have gone much worse had they gone along with his plans. We were lucky — this time — so far. Thanks you for your service.

  2. One reason suggested for Tuberville holding up high level military promotions is hope that if trump retakes the Oval Office he would ensure loyalists take those offices, loyalist to trump not the constitution.

  3. A large part of the shared “human condition” that we all take for granted is completely unavailable to TFG, completely outside his comprehension. He is a narcissistic psychopath.

    Curiously, he is becoming worse at hiding it, I think. I suspect it’s simply a matter that years of getting away with bullying and selfishness have made him loathe to put in the effort to hide it anymore, much like some people become less tactful/more blunt as they get older.

    Could he watch another being on this planet suffer and feel any empathy? I honestly doubt it. (And as just one example: how people cannot end up a weepy, snotty mess when they watch videos of pet rescues, I’ll never know. That stuff destroys me.)

  4. Its precisely why I think Trump suffers from autism and cant deal with some peoples suffering. He definately needs some fine tuning politically.
    Regardless of all the philanthropic things he did in NY it just doesn’t sit well

  5. vietnam era, 1972. at 17 i joined the navy. until i was actully in the ranks, i didnt relize the step i had taken to defend a constitution. after nam, the streets where all full of X service people. many with life long issues. trumps idea, is he didnt have to. money and graft allowed his sorry ass to avoid defending anything but his ass. deja vu asshole, its now your mein kampf. except yours
    is where you wiped your muddy boots on our democracy, and expected everyone to KYA..
    the republican party is now a nazi party with stalin like purges. and Americans convinence to
    forget or get lost in their infinate glass window has only generated legions of the brain dead.

    one comment to yesterdays subject, unions. they keepand eye on profits and scams against the workers, today, amost every aspect of labor. in the last 4 year contract,the big three paid out more to the shareholders, than the complete UAW workforce. now whos financing who?

  6. So tired of hearing all these exposés years after the fact. The right thing to have done was to resign and state the reasons why, publicly and contemporaneously. History would have evolved differently and Kelly would have been able to keep his head high. Now he will be viewed forever as one of the enablers of Trump’s monstrous presidency.

  7. While I agree that Kelly, et. al., should have spoken up much earlier, part of their concept of duty was to perform it without being a public malcontent. Also, in their defense, they recognized that the orange hairball had a right to his speech and opinions. But TFG did not do HIS duty by honoring those who defend our nation.

    Yes, the man is desperately ill. I think we’re seeing the increasingly rapid deterioration of a diseased brain; the psychopathy will continue to fester until he either commits suicide or becomes a candidate for a padded room.

    The cultists? Forget it. They are him and he is them. Those poor, deluded people have problems of their own with facts, the truth and sense of duty too. Their confirmation bias rules their day-to-day psyche.

    I wonder if Mr. Snark will show up today.

  8. This is how Hitler took over Europe before WWII and how it was so easy to accomplish the takeover; lies and propaganda, hatred, racism and when it was all over, those who were arrested and tried claimed the were just “following orders”. We are watching the 2021st Century version of Trump’s Fascism based takeover and those who are “following orders” who believe there will be a personal payoff for them. They ruled through fear by recognizing the cowardice in the general public who were gullible enough to believe he was their savior. They, too, were the minority until they became the majority using the military; our own military is now being held in check by one fool who is controlling our national security.

    The Trump indictments are NOT “better late than never”; they never should have gone this long without reprisals to stop him and his small band of followers who are bringing about a dangerous history via their heavy handed control. How will this be written in history books? WILL this be written in history books? Like cockroaches; they have all always been among us but have now been given the authority to take control of the House of Representatives at the national level and the full Supreme Court and Federal Justice System. Why else has Trump NOT been locked up for ignoring legal orders from judges in the multiple court systems his indictments are scheduled in? Round them up and use Round Up!!!

  9. When people ask me why so much medical research is done with veterans, I tell them that the veterans understand the concept of the greater good. They volunteer for some of the studies that others fear, the double blind, random sample studies where you might not get the new drug or procedure, because they know without any doubt, that the end result might help millions.

    The sick and wounded veterans are heroes, unlike President Bone Spurs. I’d spend hours with any veteran amputee before I’d spend a minute with that sociopathic twit!

    John S., you denigrate the autistic community when you place the orange menace in their company.

  10. Kelly is a hack and is missing what the Constitution has to say about his former boss — Commander-in-Chief Trump. Kelly would be a traitor to fans of Trump, and for good reason. His Constitution hopefully reads the same as ours does.

    According to Bard:

    “Yes, the President of the United States is also the military’s Commander-in-Chief. This is stated in Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 of the US Constitution, which states:

    The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States when called into the actual Service of the United States;

    This means the President has the authority to command the US military, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. The President also has the authority to appoint and remove military officers, declare war, and make peace.”

  11. One of the problems within the ranks of the military is that obedience to the line of command is so drilled into them that they lose all ability to ‘speak truth to power”. Kelly is a prime example of that. And that same code of conduct has seeped into much of the rest of government and the corporate world. Imagine how many lives would have been saved if someone in the Sackler family had said “NO!”. Or over at any of the big drug chains? Or at the gun manufacturers board meetings? Our society is full of such tragedies driven by cowardice.

  12. Both my parents served in US army during WWll; Mom was a nurse stationed in an evacuation hospital in Austria. Dad was in armored division in France was in battle and received two bronze stars. I was sickened when they died (both at 96) a few years apart during tfg’s administration, and his name was on the veteran’s honorable death certificate from US. Tfg’s m.o. is what they gave up their freedom and risk their lives to combat.

  13. So now The Duck knows he not only has to replace the entire civil service with his lackeys, but also the top brass of the military. Given what we already know about how military service prepares police for brutality and the number of vets on 1/6….he is likely putting plans together…

  14. People shoot real bullets during military operations. Taking the time to “speak truth to power” is likely to get yourself, and probably a lot of others, killed.

    As pointed out above; the constitution clearly appoints the elected President as the Commander in Chief of the military. Generals Kelly and Milley did their duty to their CIC, and most importantly they maintained their integrity by staying true to their oath to defend the Constitution.

    Like good soldiers they kept their silence while serving, but are speaking now that they are out of the chain of command. The citizens of this country need to hear what they have to say about the character of their former CIC which clearly demonstrates that TFG absolutely MUST BE PREVENTED FROM EVER RETURNING TO THE ROLE OF CIC!!!!

  15. Not only the military, but members of Congress swear to uphold the Constitution. All those elected Republican members of Congress took that oath and then supported Trump while he used the document like toilet paper. He was not their commander in chief. They swore no oath to obey his orders. They, unlike the members of the military, faced no moral dilemma. They simply chose to serve themselves and party instead of honoring their oath. Most of them are still doing so.

  16. Sharon…I seem to recall a recent visit to DC by the “Oath Takers”…they are just waiting to come back….

  17. Every time I see TFG written, I cringe. I cannot respect him ever for what I read and for what I have observed in print and television. No, I do not believe everything I hear or see either. I am a women of that certain age as others n this post, but I do have a brain to do my own thinking . I can only refer to him as “tfg” in smaller case because I can not elevate him to just a little, little, little bit of respect. He is just a small little man to me.

  18. TFG is a “Malignant Narcissist,” as has been saiid before, and cares not a whit for anyone other than himself.
    Solipsism, “The belief or proposition that the person entertaining it alone exists, and that other people exist only as ideas in his mind,” is not even an accurate description, as he most probably sees other people as real, but sees them only as “tools.” He is incapable of empathy, period!

  19. Trump can thank his right to free speech to such as two of my friends who died in WW ll to preserve such right, among others, to him. One, a Marine, was killed on Purple Beach, one of three invasion beaches on an island in the Palau group, a beach I visited shortly after the Marines had cleared it, and having no idea my friend had just been killed there. Trump has bullied his way through life on the sacrificial backs of the rest of us and I hope that, finally, he spends the rest of his miserable life in Leavenworth.

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