September 08, 2020

John Kelly lent his military credibility to Trump. It’s too late now to stay neutral.

John Kelly is in a bind: The retired four-star general, who served as President Trump’s first homeland security secretary and second White House chief of staff, is at the center of the uproar over reports last week that Trump made disrespectful, sometimes disparaging remarks about U.S. military service members on various occasions, including, according to the Atlantic, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?” as he stood with the retired general at the grave of Kelly’s son, a Marine lieutenant killed while serving in Afghanistan.

There is, however, no middle ground whereby former officers can enter the political fray but then claim the mantle of nonpartisan servants when things do not turn out the way they would like.

So far, Kelly won’t confirm or dispute that reporting, leaning on his career of service in the Marine Corps as a reason to stay silent: According to friends and associates, Kelly believes it’s inappropriate for a retired general to speak out against a sitting president in the midst of an election. But, for Kelly, that ship has sailed. He chose to serve in a political capacity, lending the credibility he gained during a lifetime in uniform to Trump’s partisan cause. No one can fault Kelly for wanting to keep his son’s memory out of partisan politics, but it’s too late for Trump’s former top White House adviser to be seriously considered as someone who is politically neutral.

Read the full article in The Washington Post.

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