The ostensible point of Donald Trump's press event at the White House yesterday was for the president to make the case that his presidency is succeeding, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. But the message ended up focusing on one thing that made Trump look even worse than usual.
Nearly two weeks after four American soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger, a reporter asked Trump yesterday why he's been silent on the deadliest attack on U.S. forces since he took office. The president responded by answering a question he wasn't asked: Trump said he, unlike Barack Obama and his other predecessors, likes to call the loved ones of Americans killed in action. (Trump hadn't actually called these families, and letters he claims to have written hadn't been sent.)
Reminded that he was brazenly lying, Trump soon after conceded that he didn't know whether Obama called these families or not.
Today, facing criticism, Trump thought it'd be a good idea to keep the story alive for another news cycle.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday defended his false claim that his predecessor didn't call the families of soldiers killed in action by alluding to former Gen. John Kelly's son, a Marine who died in Afghanistan."You could ask General Kelly, did he get a call from Obama?" Trump said in a radio interview with Fox News' Brian Kilmeade.
Something Rachel said on the show last night struck me as important. "If there's one thing a country should keep faith about, it's the thanks and respect to the family of people who gave their lives for this country... If there is anything that everybody can agree should be taken seriously and treated with solemnity and respect, it must be this."
I desperately wish the current president of the United States agreed. Evidently, he does not.
I don't know for sure what Obama did after retired Gen. John Kelly's son died in Afghanistan. But I do know the memory of 1st Lt. Robert Michael Kelly doesn't deserve to be treated as a partisan prop by a draft-dodging amateur whose profound insecurities overrides any sense of moral judgment he has left.
It's entirely possible that John Kelly, in his capacity as the White House chief of staff, privately reflected with his boss about the loss of his son seven years ago. But decency demands that Trump resist the urge to politicize the fallen for petty and political reasons.
Trump has so many flaws, and there are so many reasons he's ill-suited to the presidency and ill-equipped for its responsibilities, but sometimes, I simply wish he weren't such a small man in a big office.