“Tell me what company though keepest and I’ll tell thee what thou art.”
~ Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, Chapter XXIII
This past week’s news cycle has been dominated by the mind-numbing scandal over whether presidents call the families of fallen soldiers and which presidents do it better (or at all). To recap, this is how it all went down, following a by-now well-trod path familiar to kindergarteners: first Trump insinuated that Obama never called any families to offer condolences for fallen service members; next, this allegation was proven false; next, Sarah Huckabee Sanders doubled down on the false claim; then a Democratic Congresswoman from Florida, Frederica Wilson, accused Trump of making an insensitive remark to a military widow during a phone call; in response, Trump accused Wilson of fabrication; and it went downhill from there. As much as I despise Trump, this was, initially, an example of the outrage machine going into overdrive. It is well-known that Trump is inarticulate and has an obnoxious delivery, so he couldn’t convey a sensitive statement like one of condolences for a loved one if his life depended on it. Trump made a doody on Twitter, because it’s just another day (in paradise).
What was remarkable, however, was his Chief of Staff, John Kelly’s deeply shameful press conference on Thursday. In his statement (that the reviled Librul Fake News Media for some reason tended to characterize as “moving”), he essentially confirmed Wilson’s account of Trump’s phone call to the widow, but then attacked Wilson with a fresh claim that was proven false within hours. I don’t want to rehash all the back-and-forth. Here is a good summary.