White House Chief of staff John Kelly was at an event commemorating the 15th anniversary of the founding of the behemoth Department Homeland of Security. And he had some words that had that kind of hard truth that one often finds in humor:
When the moderator and some in the crowd read more into that comment than perhaps he intended and began laughing, Kelly rolled his eyes briefly and gave a chuckle.
Then he offered this: “The last thing I wanted to do was walk away from one of the great honors of my life — being the secretary of homeland security — but I did something wrong, and God punished me, I guess.”
Look: It was clearly intended as a joke. Kelly smiled when he said it. And it had the intended effect.
President Trump would be a horrible guy to work for. He’s like a lot of small businessmen who place a premium on personal loyalty and chafe at any attempt to impose processes that will constrict their ability to do whatever the hell they want. I’ve worked for and consulted for guys like that (like a well-know DC restaurateur who dropped his personal AmEx bill into the restaurant’s accounts payable folder). Kelly couldn’t give me his job even if I got his salary and pension for life.
But Trump’s indiscipline and the snake-pit management style he favors is only part of the issue. The #Resistance, of all political persuasions, recognize that Kelly might very well be the linchpin of the administration. He’s the guy that manages the paper flow to the Oval Office and controls who gets in to talk to Trump. Both of those jobs are critical. The Rob Porter incident was never, ever about Porter’s personal life or his security clearance. It was 100% about trying to force Kelly to resign.
I don’t have a crystal ball so I don’t do bi-weekly posts on Kelly’s imminent demise. Kelly will continue as chief of staff, out of a sense of duty to the country, until he’s told to leave. Be that today or three years from now, no one can deny Kelly has been tested in the crucible and has proven his worth.