John Kelly and the crushing irony of Donald Trump - Macleans.ca
 

John Kelly and the crushing irony of Donald Trump

One photo, less than 1,000 words: What part of Donald Trump’s speech made his chief-of-staff John Kelly facepalm?


 
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, left, reacts as he and first lady Melania Trump listen to U.S. President Donald Trump speak during the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, left, reacts as he and first lady Melania Trump listen to U.S. President Donald Trump speak during the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

When John Kelly replaced Reince Priebus as President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, the dust was only just settling from the f-bombs Anthony Scaramucci—Trump’s momentary press secretary—launched in an interview with the New Yorker. The idea at the time was to bring someone in to manage a White House bloated with damaging information, and cracking and spilling its secrets everywhere. But it quickly became apparent that Trump’s demand for discipline didn’t apply to him.

Then came Charlottesville, and Donald Trump’s equivocating in his answers to the easiest of political questions—that is: are you pro-Nazi? Standing in the lobby of his Manhattan hotel, Trump evaluated the far right marchers in Virginia that weekend and concluded that, “You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists and the press treated them absolutely unfairly.” As he spoke, Kelly, on the job only a few weeks, stood to the side, arms folded, staring at the floor.

It was inevitably only the first image in a growing series.

How much of Trump’s speech Tuesday did Kelly see or hear beforehand? In years past, one could assume the president’s chief of staff would at least know the substance of such a major speech, or had even perhaps contributed to or offered edits on early drafts. But Trump’s White House is from another political dimension, and what goes on inside it is beyond the scope of normal assumptions.

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In any event, Trump’s bellicose posturing about America’s place in the world—the kind that had alienated its closest allies earlier this year at the G7 meeting in Italy—featured prominently. America, the world’s delegates were told, is getting a raw deal as the west’s foremost superpower. “The United States will forever be a great friend to the world and especially to its allies,” Trump lectured, semi-accurately. “But we can no longer be taken advantage of or enter into a one-sided deal where the United States gets nothing in return,” Trump continued as, thousands of kilometres away, U.S. fighter planes and warships sat docked at American military bases in countries around the globe.

Was it here that John Kelly, the former head of United States Southern Command, facepalmed? Or was it when Trump escalated his nuclear chest-beating contest with North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un—when he referred to the young dictator simply as “rocket man”? Or was it later, when Trump said the U.S. would work with Middle Eastern nations to “crush the loser terrorists”?

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Or was it later still when Trump, a president who lacks the clarity of thought to issue something so simple as a rebuke to armed racists, xenophobes, and anti-semites on American streets, told the United Nations—an institution created in the days following a worldwide war against genocidal fascism—that “all people deserve a government that cares for their safety, their interests, and their well-being, including their prosperity”?

Maybe it was then that John Kelly pressed against his temples. When the irony finally became too crushing.

Update: Some analysis has shown that indeed, out of all the things Trump said in his speech that could have legitimately made Kelly facepalm, it was likely Trump’s statements on North Korea.

WATCH: Donald Trump sounds off on North Korea


 

John Kelly and the crushing irony of Donald Trump

  1. Trump said, “You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists and the press treated them absolutely unfairly.” From what I’ve seen AND READ susequently, Trump got it right.
    There were two groups of peaceful protesters-one wanting to remove the statue of Lee; the other wanting to preserve it. And there were two groups of thugs: Anti-fa on the left who are the home of The Black Block, and white supremisists on the right. Anti-fa, best described as extreme anarchists, have delivered more real and recent damage and harm to anyone with a different opinion from their extreme positions than the white supremisists ever thought of. The latter is a threat; the former is committing real damage.
    And, by the way Trump has denounced the KKK, Neo-Nazis and other racist groups some 26 times before and after Charlottesville. Give the guy a breaK!!

    • White supremacists have killed 60 people and counting this year in the US, per the ADL, and 6 in Canada.

      Antifa have thrown some punches and broken some windows.

      Do you want to tell the families of those 66 that their lives aren’t worth as much to you as the windows?

      • EMPA JEROME really does not deserve an answer, he obviously has selective hearing.

          • You didn’t answer my question. Are those windows worth more than the dozens of people killed by white supremacists?

            If not, why do you say that Antifa is worse than the murderers?

          • EMPA
            Based on your distorted views I can only assume you get your data from some left wing biased rag-the fake news boys.

          • @Jerome

            Um… the source you yourself posted mentions a woman killed by a white supremacist. Was that a “distorted view”?

      • So pathetic.

        Mark Bray, a Dartmouth lecturer who has defended antifa’s violent tactics, recently explained in The Post, “Its adherents are predominantly communists, socialists and anarchists” who believe that physical violence “is both ethically justifiable and strategically effective.” In other words, they are no different from neo-Nazis. Neo-Nazis are the violent advocates of a murderous ideology that killed 25 million people last century. Antifa members are the violent advocates of a murderous ideology that, according to “The Black Book of Communism,” killed between 85 million and 100 million people last century. Both practice violence and preach hate. They are morally indistinguishable. There is no difference between those who beat innocent people in the name of the ideology that gave us Hitler and Himmler and those who beat innocent people in the name of the ideology that gave us Stalin and Dzerzhinsky.

  2. In his article “John Kelly and the crushing irony of Donald Trump”, Colin Horgan likes to make much (a whole story, in fact) of simple body gestures, which of themselves can mean nothing, or anything (fatigue, habitual positioning, mental pause, tic, etc.), which most human beings display from time to time, in one form or another. If the writer was inclined to follow Mr. Kelly for some time, he would no doubt observe similar body gestures in other contexts as well – and not only in the presence of his boss. For a writer who like to tell us that “Trump lectured, semi-accurately”, Mr. Horgan sure likes to give us a whole lecture of what we should make of Mr. Kelly’s body gestures. But then: What to expect from media so obsessed with President Trump bashing, that they would spend most of their energies in “analyzing” the meaning of Melania Trump’s stilettos in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

    • Raymond Martel, Did you listen to trump and decided that was a great speech for the President of the USA to give to the UN? Or maybe it was intended to whitewash the nonsense trump sprouted.

      • In fact, many observers, both inside and outside the U.N., on both sides of the aisle (but not all) have said that it was President Trump’s best speech to date.

        Therefore, your non-deserved answer is, “obviously” due to selective research.