Soup du Jour Or the Same Old Gruel; John Kelly, The New Chief of Staff
Trump’s presidency will certainly be remembered for many things. It’s first one hundred days has been dubbed a chaotic mess with the same hiring and firing as the billionaire’s reality show, except that as president, no one wins. Each morning since he took office, Trump’s tweets are filled with criticism and questionable truths and in the shadow of a possible Russian collusion investigation with new revelations every week, Americans are left wondering what will be next. We are teetering on the edge of a war with North Korea, and several fragile relationships with world powers are like hairline cracks in china cups filled with water. Most new presidencies have their share of adjustments, but since January, most of us find ourselves holding our palms up with our mouths open in wonder. Perhaps Trump sees some of the same chaos we all do and is making the effort to move forward, implementing his agenda on healthcare, tax, and immigration reform. His choice to appoint John Kelly as his Chief of Staff might be an impetus of that change. But what do we know about Kelly and what makes him different than the other candidates in Trumps all American reality show?
John Kelly, Boston born and raised, served almost fifty years in the military. He retired as a four-star general from the U.S. Marine Corps. He has served in Iraq and Afghanistan and has run military operations in Central and South America as well as the Caribbean. His son, who was also serving in the military, was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. This is only one highlighted difference between Trump and Kelly. Not only has the present Commander in Chief never served, but his criticism of politicians who have, leaves a somewhat bitter taste for Trump’s character. Regardless, serving does not always make the case for a good president, but it does make the case for how a man like John Kelly runs a position he was hired to do.
Kelly isn’t new to the White House. Earlier this year, he was appointed as Secretary of Homeland Security, and the accomplishments in this department are some of the few that have been successful in this Presidency. In the first two months of 2017, there were over 21,000 arrests of undocumented immigrants. There has been much controversy about the enforcement of immigration policy. Many Americans see it as a campaign of bias, and the protests since January have shown that. But whether we agree or disagree, the increase in arrests and deportations shows that it can be done and isn’t just a threat. More so, Kelly sought to increase hiring of immigration and border agents and in creating a stronger security for our country. He also supported allowing these men and women to do their jobs with integrity and pride, something the president has been known for criticizing.
As Secretary of Homeland Security, Kelly wasn’t just about doing the president’s bidding. He understood that what he was doing was enforcing the laws that were already in place. He challenged Congress to change the laws if they don’t like the way they are being implemented. But either way, he said, “Support the men and women on the front lines.” He also understood that there was more needed to keep illegal immigration down than just deportation and arrests. He supported helping Mexico to improve their economy to create a better life for people who live there. He is a believer that homeland security starts with giving immigrants opportunity in their homeland. Where the living conditions and education are good, there is little reason to leave.
Kelly is certainly not without his flaws. He is a tough commander and he does not seem to care what people think of him, as long as he is doing what he was hired to do. But that may be the attitude needed to change this White House. On the outside, Kelly appears to have the same character as Robert Mueller. Both are determined not be swayed by either Congress or the President. If Kelly, as he claims, is just enforcing the law that is already in place, maybe it isn’t him we should be angry at. Maybe there is truth to what he says; if we don’t like this recipe for freedom, we should change the ingredients. It would certainly make it more palatable to those of us who have to eat it.