It seems that Mr. Trump besmirches the reputation of anyone who dares to become in anyway closely associated with him. It does not matter whether they work for him, are close business associates, are surrogates or anything else. In all cases it seems that he, at the very least, sullies them and in many cases he besmirches their reputations beyond repair. I cannot recall whether it was a journalist or a political Pundit who recently said that Mr. Trump sullies those associated with him beyond washing but I know that I have never heard that kind of a statement made about a POTUS before. It might be a stretch to say that it or the comment by George Will that Mr. Trump is ‘barely on speaking terms with the English language’ would cause a chuckle (even if an uncomfortable one) if used by a comedian but normally I would make that stretch. However, America’s situation is so serious at this point that I doubt that they would even garner an uncomfortable chuckle.
The latest casualty of Mr. Trump is General John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff. Many of those who spoke of General Kelly before he became chief of staff lauded him for his stellar reputation and could find only good things to say about him. Now, only a short time after becoming the White House chief of staff he is shrouded in controversy and that stellar reputation has been soiled. Whether it has been soiled beyond repair (washing) remains to be seen. All of the brouhaha has arisen because he made an effort to provide cover to his boss, Mr. Trump, regarding a call that Mr. Trump made to Mrs. Myeshia Johnson – the grieving widow, after her husband Sgt. La David T. Johnson was killed during an ambush in Niger.
The cover that General Kelly provided for Mr. Trump consisted of a statement he made in defense of Mr. Trump’s telephone call to this widow and then an attack on congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson who heard the call and publicized how disappointed she was with the way that Mr. Trump spoke to Mrs. Johnson. Although a video of congresswoman Wilson’s statement in 2015 has proven that the accusations General Kelly made about her were false, up to this point, he has neither recanted nor apologized. In addition, the White House is defending General Kelly and has said that he stands by his comments. General Kelly continues to remain silent. During his statement, General Kelly used the term “empty barrel” when referring to congresswoman Wilson. This term is a pejorative. And although it is not limited to any particular race, since congresswoman Wilson is African American and during the course of her response to General Kelly’s criticism of her she said that the White House “is full of white supremacists”, her comment when juxtaposed to General Kelly’s “empty barrel” comment regarding her stoked racial overtones.
According to an article in The New York Times by Yamiche Alcindor and Michael D. Shear dated 10/20/2017, “General Kelly said that he was ‘stunned’ that Representative Wilson made comments at a building dedication honoring slain F.B.I. agents about her own actions in Congress, including lobbying former President Obama on legislation,” Ms. Sanders said in a statement. “As General Kelly pointed out, if you’re able to make a sacred act like honoring American heroes about yourself, you’re an empty barrel.” Ms. Sanders made her own unsolicited comment about General Kelly’s reference to congresswoman Wilson as an ’empty barrel’ when she said that in the south we would say “all hat and no cattle.” Well, let me think here. Oh yeah; Mr. Trump went to the CIA building and stood in front of the stars that represented each fallen agent and talked about how the press had downplayed the size of the crowd he had. And if I recall correctly, he said something along the line of I looked out over the crowd and there looked to be more than a million people and the press said I had this tiny (he gestured with his forefinger and thumb) crowd. My question to General Kelly and Sarah Sanders is, does this make Mr. Trump an “empty barrel” or “all hat and no cattle”?
Despite the answer that these two individuals might give to my question, my point is that General Kelly has now had his reputation sullied. And if he continues to follow the lead of the White House, where his reputation is concerned, things are only likely to get worse before he too – like his predecessor, is thrown under the bus and then fired. General Kelly is likely a good person with good intentions but that will not prevent his reputation and legacy from being stained and or completely ruined. Unfortunately, it may already be too late to prevent them from being, at the least, stained.
But in the midst of all of this controversy we must continue to remember that all of this came about because Mr. Trump deflected a question that a reporter asked him about the four soldiers that were killed in Niger by suggesting that President Obama and other presidents did not call the families of fallen soldiers. Despite the affect that all of this is having on the media, the public must stay focused, not be distracted by political smoke and mirrors, and continue to keep pressure on Mr. Trump to explain exactly what happened in Niger and why it happened. In addition, during all of this controversy about Sgt. LaDavid T. Johnson, congresswoman Wilson, Mr. Trump and General Kelly and the inferred Imminent sullying of General Kelly’s reputation, we must not forget that there were three other soldiers who died during this ambush and that there were two others who were wounded.
Let us take time now to remember Staff Sgt. Bryan Black…, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson… and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright… And although, to my knowledge, the Pentagon has not yet released the names of the two soldiers that were wounded; let us remember them as well. Then, let us keep them and their families and those heroes who have passed on and their families in our prayers.
Eulus Dennis – author, Operation Rubik’s Cube and Living Between The Line