This entire story arc is is sad, but the two ostensible protagonists come off terribly – Kelly more-so than his boss, but that might be intentional. Trump is asked why the administration hasn’t spoken about military personnel KIA – a question which I interpret to mean why has the WH not addressed the situation that led to their deaths. But the malignant narcissist in chief makes the whole operation about how awesome he is (or is not) at consoling grieving military families. Red herring. But for some reason everyone grabs a pole and goes fishing. Investigations into the operation are below-the-fold side-bars, and at least two media outlets took to ringing gold star families to determine what percentage Trump has actually called. Now we’ve got a whole school of red herrings swimming around: 25k checks in the mail, people who *were* comforted by Trump’s call, percentages who have never heard from the dude.
Then Kelly – instead of saying yeah, he advised Trump to tell the family that this is what the kid wanted to be doing, explained how this knowledge was a great comfort to *him* when his son died, but conceded may have been offensive to someone else (or that the message got lost when translated to Trump word-salad) or that there is literally nothing you could say to a family driving to pick up the casket of their dead son/husband that would help. Continuing that he’s crushed to think he may have had a part in increasing the family’s pain and hopes we can all focus on helping grieving families (here are some volunteer ideas) and returning military personnel (more volunteer ideas). Oh no, Kelly has to attack a Congresswoman for hearing a phone call whilst in the car with a constituent’s family?? And for a speech she may or may not have made in 2015. Even if she was completely full of herself and usurped a building’s dedication for self-aggrandizement (a move more typical of Kelly’s boss than, ya know, halfway sentient human beings) … so what.
The worst part is that Kelly’s explanation of what he counseled Trump to say and why … for me, the whole story made sense at that point and I’d forgotten that it was a red herring that got resolved. I could totally see how a military person might find comfort in knowing how much his son *wanted* to be there and died doing exactly what he wanted to do surrounded by the closest friends you could imagine. And I could also see where someone else might hear “he got what he asked for”. Wouldn’t have thought farther on it, had Kelly stopped there. But as he kept going on about the Congresswoman, I started to think about how little effort must have gone into preparing the message for the family. Did anyone from the WH side knew the kid or his family well? Or contact his superior officer to find out anything about the kid other than the fact he is dead? Did his parents hate that he enlisted and worry about him constantly or were they thrilled that their son was defending freedom across the globe? Did he enlist out of a sense of duty or a sense that the military provided a paycheque and future he couldn’t find elsewhere?
And why wouldn’t these kind of calls be scheduled? ‘Meeting the casket’ sounds like the flight arriving from Dover, which I would expect to be a military transport. Even if it isn’t a military transport, someone in the military should have known the departing flight number and had a halfway decent guess what the bereaved family would be doing that day.
And then I remember the whole thing is a logical fallacy and wonder what the fuck happened in Niger? What was so bad that sending the nation down a week-long narrative about what does or does not console grieving families, lies about what some obscure member of Congress said in a speech a few years back, who should or should not be present when a family decides to put Trump on speakerphone, and how many gold star families Trump has actually called is the *better* play.