Unable to protect the President from behind the scenes, the way a normal chief of staff working for a normal, competent President would, White House chief of staff John Kelly has to take the podium today to explain why Donald Trump couldn’t even handle consoling the grieving family of a fallen soldier.
Kelly, a veteran and father of a fallen soldier himself, brings some gravitas to the discussion. But two lines stand out from his White House remarks today:
So he called four people the other day and expressed his condolences in the best way that he could. And he said to me, what do I say? I said to him, sir, there’s nothing you can do to lighten the burden on these families.Well, let me tell you what I told him. Let me tell you what my best friend, Joe Dunford, told me — because he was my casualty officer. He said, Kel, he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what he was getting into by joining that 1 percent. He knew what the possibilities were because we’re at war. And when he died, in the four cases we’re talking about, Niger, and my son’s case in Afghanistan — when he died, he was surrounded by the best men on this Earth: his friends.
That’s what the President tried to say to four families the other day [emphasis mine; john Kelly, remarks from the White House, as transcribed by New York Times, 2017.10.19].
Donald tried. Donald did the best… that he could.
Donald is not a preschooler struggling with 7-8-9 and shoelaces. Donald is the President of the United States, an official we elect to be one of the most competent people on the planet. We’re not talking about formulating complicated fiscal policy or an intricate multilateral trade treaty. We’re talking about expressing simple human empathy and gratitude for a family’s ultimate sacrifice.
Donald’s phone-call snafu shows his irremediable self-absorption, his inability to see beyond himself and genuinely feel for his fellow Americans. Trump is proof that narcissists make terrible Presidents.