"You know, when I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country," White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said as he lectured the nation while standing in front of the White House podium last fall. "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."
He made these remarks as a means of attacking Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, whose only sin was daring to stand up for the widow of a fallen soldier from her district that was disrespected by President Trump. As a result, Kelly called Wilson an "empty barrel," which MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell noted as a thinly veiled racist smear against Wilson. Around this same time, Kelly practically defended slavery and deemed Confederate General Robert E. Lee as "honorable."
For the longest time, John Kelly was hailed as the adult in the room. As legend had it, as a former general, he was bringing rational thought, professionalism, and much needed gravitas to a White House full of degenerates and political novices. This mythology was largely fueled by members of the press desperate to normalize an abnormal administration. Still, for several months now it's been all too clear that John Kelly was no different than the other folks who currently occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
And if there were any lingering doubt as to who exactly John Kelly is, his handling of White House staff secretary Rob Porter removes it. He, like the man he serves is a charlatan and a bigot. He never deserved being this complimentary narrative and it's about time some finally stop spreading such a foolish folk tales.
Earlier this week, The Daily Mail reported that Porter allegedly beat both of his former wives. In a statement, Kelly referred to Porter as "a man of true integrity and honor and I can't say enough good things about him." Kelly went on to declare, "He is a friend, a confidante and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him."
Following immense backlash, Kelly released a second statement:
“There is no place for domestic violence in our society. I stand by my previous comments of the Rob Porter that I have come to know since becoming Chief of Staff, and believe every individual deserves the right to defend their reputation. I accepted his resignation earlier today, and will ensure a swift and orderly transition.”
It's not surprising to see that Kelly stood by his remarks. After all, he refused to offer an apology to Congresswoman Wilson despite being called out for lying on her. And in this same week, Kelly doubled down on his complaint of immigrants "who were too lazy to get off their asses" and sign up for DACA protections. He reeks of hubris and inherent biases and there's not enough sanctimony to wrap himself in to hide the stench.
Kelly had every intention to keep Porter in his position at the White House. Despite any claims to the contrary, Kelly was aware of the accusations leveled against Porter. The FBI reportedly interviewed both of Porter's ex-wives about their accusations during his application for a security clearance last year. There is a reason why Porter was never granted a full security clearance, and as White House Chief of Staff, Kelly was privy to details as to why. Yet, Kelly apparently "implored" Porter not to resign and Politico claims Kelly even considered Porter "to fill the job of deputy chief of staff for policy."
What all changed was the image of Porter's first ex-wife Colbie Holderness with a black eye.
If the press could get access to such photos, certainly so could John Kelly. It's reasonable to believe he's seen these photos before. Either way, there is no way he was blindsided. He just didn't give a damn. Regardless, it should have not taken a picture to confirm abuse.
Why is it so hard to take women at their word?
CNN has reported that Holderness along with his second ex-wife, Jennifer Willoughby, were contacted by a third woman claiming to be Porter's girlfriend who said she, too, was abused by Porter. All it took for former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci to be dismissed was a profanity-laden interview. But a man being accused of beating two of his former wives? That's a man of "integrity" and "honor" as claimed by a man who once claimed to long for the days in which women were sacred.
According to Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman, there is talk of Kelly being ousted. It appears Trump was "not aware of the severity of the alleged abuse" until this week. If that is the same, it is a valid reason to call for his dismissal. Unfortunately, when it comes to the Trump administration, Sweet Potato Saddam and co. would not be ridding themselves of the real problem at hand.
As Time's Ryan Teague Beckwith writes, "For the Trump White House, a man’s denial carries a lot of weight." Kelly may have defended an accused woman beater, but former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon was accused of attacking his former wife, too. So has President Trump in addition to his multiple accusations of sexual assault. All while he endorsed an accused pedophile — something that didn't spark any of his staff members to resign.
John Kelly should go for his actions, but make no mistake, none of these people respect women — including several of the women who serve under this administration.
And they all need to go. The sooner, the better.