General Kelly’s Paean to MAGA

Sipa USA via AP
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Lost in the storm and anguish over John Kelly’s attacks today was a sobering reality. The ideological and rhetorical spine of his remarks was a paean to MAGA. The old days were good. We had real religion. Things were right with women. There was no abortion. Honor was sacred and respected. Now it’s all crap because of people like Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D), a showboater from Florida who transgressed our last sacred space.

Kelly’s words …

It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation. Absolutely stuns me. And I thought at least that was sacred. You know, when I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country. Women were sacred, looked upon with great honor. That’s obviously not the case anymore as we see from recent cases. Life — the dignity of life — is sacred. That’s gone. Religion, that seems to be gone as well.

Gold Star families, I think that left in the convention over the summer. But I just thought — the selfless devotion that brings a man or woman to die on the battlefield, I just thought that that might be sacred.

That is the ideological spine. The rhetorical spine of his remarks was even clearer. Attacks on President Trump are attacks on the sanctity of heroism and patriotic sacrifice itself. Again, attacking President Trump is attacking the troops. It’s the same maneuver driving Trump’s war on the NFL. Kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism and police misconduct really isn’t about police brutality or racism it all. It’s spitting on the sacrifice of American soldiers.

How whipsawed must someone who was aghast at President Trump’s lying about former Presidents and failure even to note the deaths of these four soldiers be to learn that they were in fact dishonoring military service and sacrifice and failing to respect the President who, in Kelly’s words, “very bravely does make those calls.”

Underneath this logic is a belief which Kelly actually stated much more clearly than most are willing to do. We don’t just owe respect to people who serve in the military. They are actually better than us civilians.

Kelly’s words …

We don’t look down upon those of you who that haven’t served. In fact, in a way we’re a little bit sorry because you’ll have never have experienced the wonderful joy you get in your heart when you do the kinds of things our service men and women do — not for any other reason than they love this country. So just think of that.

Kelly made a similar point when he refused to take questions from any reporter who was not either from a Gold Star family themselves or personally knew someone who was. You may not even deserve your civic freedoms, the right to talk, to ask question, unless you are near to military sacrifice.

Just what Kelly was saying wasn’t clear on first blush because he’s not a phony and a clown like President Trump – an unchurched libertine and draft dodger who wraps himself in traditionalism and military glory. If you’re eyes are open Trump is a joke against himself. Kelly is a bonafide general officer and combat veteran. When he speaks about military sacrifice we listen. We should. He speaks with some authority, from experience, unlike the President.

But his script turned out to be pure MAGA, pure Trumpism, in some ways more potent because it was wrapped in a lifetime of service but still no less odious.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.
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