There are certain moments in history when people allow themselves to get so swept up in current passions that they lose sight of what's really important. Fortunately, at those moments, we’ve always had someone step up and, in simple but searing words, shock and shame us back to our senses. When US Army counsel Joseph Welch demanded of Joseph McCarthy, "At long last, have you left no sense of decency?" that was such a moment. Another was when the Rev. Martin Luther King declared, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
Well, you may think I’m overstating the case, but I got some of that same shiver up my spine yesterday as I listened to White House Chief of Staff, former Marine General and Gold Star dad John Kelly give a remarkable lecture (it wasn’t a press conference, it was an old-fashioned talking-to) to the White House Press Corps, but also to every politician and media member in America, and to the entire culture at large.
The subject was President Trump’s condolence calls to the parents of the four soldiers killed this week in a terrorist attack in Niger. A media frenzy had been set off by longtime Trump critic, Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson, who claimed to have overheard one phone call and accused Trump of being callous and unfeeling for allegedly telling the soldier’s widow that her husband knew what he had signed up for.
Kelly made the point that having been in that position too many times and from both sides (his son was killed in Afghanistan), he advised Trump not to make such calls because there’s nothing you can say to make it hurt less. But Trump does care about the military and wanted to call. So Kelly told him to say exactly that: that knowing the risk but volunteering to take it on anyway because they love this country so much is what makes our military people genuine heroes and the greatest 1% of Americans.
Kelly, his voice filled with emotion, then talked about all the things that used to be sacred in America, but that had been tainted by partisan politics. His words deserve to be quoted in full:
“When I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country. Women were sacred and looked upon with great honor. That's obviously not the case anymore as we've seen from recent cases. Life — the dignity of life — was sacred, that's gone. Religion. That seems to be gone as well. Gold Star families — I think that left in the convention over the summer.”
He went on to say that the last sacred thing left was that tragic condolence call to the family of a fallen soldier, and that he was “stunned” that a member of Congress would listen in and then attempt to use it for cheap partisan political gain. (For her part, Rep. Wilson seemed to revel in the attention, crowing that she was a “rock star” – if she really thinks that what she did is an achievement, then she is as dumb as a rock.)
Please watch it all, including the beginning, where he traces every step taken from the death of a service member to that final phone call. It’s both instructive and heartbreaking.
As the far-left “progressive” movement has taken over the Democratic Party, we’ve seen their stated strategy put into play of politicizing everything, of allowing “no escapism” from their constant propagandizing. Hillary Clinton’s loss, which snatched away their long-sought goal of stacking the Supreme Court and gutting the Constitution, has sent this movement into hyperdrive.
Since last November, the media, liberal politicians, celebrities, college students and professors and the rest of the left’s constituency have been in full-bore, Trump-trashing tantrum mode 24/7. They have politicized the news, awards shows, movies, campuses, social media, live theater, music, late night comedy programs, the NFL and virtually every other corner of American life. There is no escaping their constant whining and trash-talking. Hillary even attacked President Trump this week not merely on foreign soil (another formerly sacred tradition now trashed), but in South Korea, even knowing it might embolden the nuclear-armed lunatic next door.
From talking to Americans in my travels and online, I get a strong feeling that there is a rising tide of people fed up with this childish, selfish divisiveness from the preening left. Gen. Kelly spoke for them all when he drew a line: the deaths of our military members and the grief of their families are not for anyone to exploit for cheap political point-scoring.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of America entering World War I. I would challenge Rep. Wilson to read the famous poem “In Flanders Field” about the massive sacrifices made by the soldiers of that time (“In Flanders Field, the poppies blow, between the crosses, row on row…”) If she still feels proud of herself for tainting that with her partisan grandstanding, then I can only ask this: “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"