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Colley: Kelly an affront to Dems' narratives

A writer at an ultra-left publication suggests John Kelly foreshadows a military coup. Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, serves as current White House chief of staff. Unless you were vacationing on Saturn you know last week Kelly dressed down a sitting member of the House of Representatives. This followed the woman politicizing a call from the president to a Gold Star widow. It was such a dramatic and thorough take down the left is reeling.

For decades now liberal culture warriors have run roughshod over traditional American values. It started 50 years ago with the belittling of military efforts in Southeast Asia. When the left eventually realized a large block of its countrymen weren’t on the bandwagon the undermining of the Pentagon became much more nuanced. Bowe Bergdahl is hailed as a hero by many on the left because he undermined a war effort liberals didn’t like.

Right after the 9/11 attacks I’ll never forget a lunch meeting with a public television executive who told me the United States got what it had coming. While most Americans realize their country isn’t perfect they still recoil at the idea any good men were involved with al Qaeda in its mass murder of 3,000 Americans. The left is always on an apology tour.

When Democrats see their narrative threatened by a strong personality along the lines of Gen. Kelly, you know they’ll respond like cornered rats. And the party’s minions in mainstream media quickly joined the effort. The thing is, bashing Gold Star father John Kelly is probably no more productive than bashing the Gold Star parents who campaigned last year against Donald Trump.

As one Gold Star mother from Idaho explained, Trump’s predecessor mailed her a form letter after her son was killed at war. Trump is at least trying to make an effort to personally thank the families for the last full measure of devotion. Trump Derangement Syndrome has reached a point where it’s nothing but rage and lacks any reason.

As for a coup, I think a blatant military takeover is highly unlikely. What I believe is much more possible is a period of military control if street rioting approaches levels of civil war, which I suggest daily becomes an ever greater threat. Where is there any common ground between right and left? Love of country? There isn’t any agreement on where the love commences. There’s no common ground on where life begins. There’s no common ground on shared bathrooms. There’s no common ground on the role of law enforcement and the military. There’s no common ground on the symbolism of the flag and national anthem. We’re now asked to choose sides.

It’s not an aberration. In the great historical and sociological work “The Fourth Turning,” we’re due for some bloodletting. The book details eight centuries of English-speaking history. Every 80 years (give or take a few years) English-speaking peoples have faced the following in tandem or individually: Dynastic wars, civil wars and wars with neighbors. Even the American Revolution can be seen in the wider context as an English-speaking civil matter. It followed England’s Glorious Revolution by a little more than eight decades. The American Civil War fits the pattern. As does World War II. We’re due for a conflict. It could involve a rogue Asian nation, battles here at home or both.

A few weeks ago a friend retired from the Army after reaching the rank of lieutenant colonel and serving in two wars. Over the years he would supply me with polls of our fighting men and women. Most often they identified as Republican. In recent years there were changes. Fewer Republicans but more libertarians. The type of people we identify living in the Idaho Panhandle who go to Boise and make a lot of noise in the state Legislature. They surely aren’t Democrats.

Two weeks ago I was reading a column from a nationally known liberal writer and he claimed the ranks of the military were “conservative” by his definition but the officers have become more liberal. He may be referring to the Pentagon’s mixed signals on transgendered troops. I’m not sure where he found any voting records, but Saturday I did some research and came across some numbers refuting the notion the generals now lean left. In fact the figures show a very deep red crowd at the Pentagon. Almost 90 percent could be considered Republicans or sympathetic to right-leaning ideals.

Additionally, they no longer need to mouth politically correct platitudes to advance. The new president has their backs.

So, in a crisis the troops would back law enforcement. A video I watched related to the figures I’ve cited also shows the Intermountain West would be a bystander in such events. For us it would be nothing more than a television show. This notion a free press would prevent any clampdown on leftist dissent is baloney. As media demands an end to the Second Amendment and whines Trump will squelch the previous, it can’t see its credibility evaporating.

It’s a corrupt institution. Attacks on men like Gen. Kelly only further marginalize liberals and news media. And I apologize for being redundant.

Other view: We're down to Mattis, I suppose

Republicans and Democrats alike have been deluding themselves for some time about White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. They were certain that Kelly was a “grown-up” who understood that the president the American people elected was hobbled—morally, intellectually, temperamentally—and it was Kelly’s job to steer the ship of state away from the rocks. He wouldn’t lie to the American people as President Donald Trump did, these Kelly fans believed.

Recognition is now sinking in that Kelly is not so different than all the other politicians and officials who come in contact with Trump. To serve him requires suspension of integrity, and therefore those who serve become morally corrupted. (The sole exception to this seems to be Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who from day one simply refused to act as Trump’s political flack.) One can hear a palpable sense of sadness after last week’s events, a sense of disillusionment.

After Kelly came out to play defense for Trump over his handling of calls to Gold Star families, smeared Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., and refused to apologize, launched a Trumpian soliloquy about the good old days (when women were “sacred,” but not in the workforce) and elevated the moral stature of service members over mere civilians, it was hard to argue he was anything more than a Trump enabler.

Susan Glasser of Politico appearing on “Face the Nation” observed, “We’re not surprised Donald Trump behaved this way because it’s very consistent with what we’ve seen from President Trump throughout not only his presidency but his campaign. . . . I think it’s more surprising what we saw in a way from General Kelly. We learned more. One of the things that’s been apparent over the last couple of months that this underscored is that it remains Donald Trump’s White House and not John Kelly’s White House, even if he has imposed more discipline and more of a process, number one.

She added, “We saw that General Kelly, this week, shares more of Donald Trump’s agenda than we realized. . . . I found General Kelly’s comment to be surprising and even puzzling that he would have brought up in the same commentary about this incident with the Gold Star families this notion that in the good old days women were sacred.” She noted, “A lot of people have talked about the irony of working for a president who has been accused of this kind of behavior.”

Kelly’s fall from grace was swift and senseless. It was all so unnecessary; he need not have gone out to spin for the president.

The verdict on Kelly was remarkably negative, whether it was retired Gen. David Petraeus musing that Kelly was no doubt trying to figure out how to turn down the volume, or longtime GOP political strategist Matthew Dowd. (“The problem is that I have is . . . does he know who he works for? He talks about the sacredness of Gold Star families and that we have lost that when he works for a guy that attacked Gold Star families and attacked John McCain as a prisoner,” Dowd said. “He talks about the sacredness of women, and he has somebody that said certain things on tape, things that were at best predatory, at best predatory, and has been accused by 12 or 14 different women of behavior. He says we lost the sacredness of religion, and he works for somebody that wanted to ban Muslims.”)

So from adult day-care shift supervisor to enabler in a short week, Kelly sacrificed a good deal of his utility to the president for nothing. In seeking to elevate the military above the rest of us, he ironically undercut his own stature as a guarantor of our democratic norms.

Those harboring unrealistic expectations about Kelly have learned once again: None of Trump’s advisers can make up for the deficits of this president; and with a lonely exception of Mattis, all of them look worse for having tried.

Jennifer Rubin