Speaking of character

Bottom line: Kelly should have apologized to Representative Frederika Wilson the minute the video surfaced. He should have admitted that he badly misrepresented what she said and did at that FBI event, and did it in a damaging harmful way. He claimed she did bad, shocking things that she didn’t do, and he claimed that he and many others there were stunned, stunned by those things – those things that she didn’t do. He’s the White House chief of staff, he said those things about a Congressional representative (and by the way a black woman, and his boss has quite a record of publicly trashing black women), he said those things that are harmful to her reputation, and they were false. He should have copped to it immediately and apologized energetically.

He has not done that.

So now what he said about her becomes a bunch of lies. He may well have thought they were true when he said them, but he knows they’re not true now – and he’s not admitting it and not apologizing. Conduct unbecoming, if you ask me.

In fact conduct cowardly and weaselly and self-serving.

Also – he may have thought they were true when he said them, but then we have to ask where did they come from. Why did his imagination conjure up such an ugly fiction about Frederika Wilson? We have to wonder.

Ryan Lizza says Kelly is paying the price for taking a job with Trump.

As was quickly reported, the video of Wilson’s nine-minute speech is online. Wilson did tell a story about how she; John Boehner, the House Speaker at the time; and Obama worked together to make sure that the building was named after the two slain F.B.I. agents in time for the event. She said nothing about securing funding (she was, in fact, not in Congress when the money was authorized) and nothing about “how she took care of her constituents.” She asked law-enforcement officials present to stand up “so we can applaud you and what you do,” adding, “we’re proud of you, we’re proud of your courage.” She then told the tragic story of the two agents who lost their lives. The speech bears no resemblance to the speech Kelly described. The White House chief of staff maligned a congresswoman, whose only crime seemed to be criticizing Trump, with a series of lies.

When a reporter at the White House on Friday asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders about the glaring discrepancy between Kelly’s account and the actual speech, she said that the White House stood by his remarks. “There was a lot of grandstanding,” she said. “He was stunned that she had taken that opportunity to make it about herself.” The reporter pressed: “He was wrong yesterday in talking about getting the money. The money was secured before she came into Congress.”

He was wrong that she didn’t mention the agents who were killed; wrong that she bragged about it; wrong that she took the credit; entirely wrong about the emphasis of what she said.

Sanders shot back with the kind of statement that would be normal in an authoritarian country, suggesting that Kelly’s previous military service placed him beyond criticism. “If you want to go after General Kelly, that’s up to you,” she said. “But I think that that—if you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that that’s something highly inappropriate.”

No, it is not. Kelly is the chief of staff and a political operative. He held a press conference and told a lie that smeared one of Trump’s political opponents. No government official’s military background, no matter how honorable, makes him immune to criticism, especially given the subject at hand. Sanders’s response was unnerving. But the bigger lesson of the episode is that no matter how good one’s intentions are, when you go to work for Trump, you will end up paying for it with your reputation. For Kelly, not even his four stars prevented that.

It’s morally revolting that he refuses to withdraw what he said and ap0logize.

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