Opinion: Did Everyone in the White House Take a Nap During History Class?

In forward-looking America, history is sometimes regarded as a roadblock to progress, a nuisance. And that, as has been repeatedly proven, is a mistake.

Why look back when the future is so important? Well, because failure to do exactly that has consequences.

The latest to get caught up in “he must have dozed through class that day” is White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who has been criticized for his reading of the Civil War.


Opinion: When the Price Is Too High to Be an American

If I had been in that briefing room when White House Chief of Staff and retired Gen. John Kelly stated that only journalists who had a personal connection to a fallen soldier were allowed to ask a question, I could have raised my hand. But that would have cheapened the memory of a Marine, my beloved nephew, treating his life and death as currency in an unholy transaction.

I get what Kelly was trying to pointedly point out — the disconnect between the folks in the room who may have been untouched by the costs of military service and the families who live with them every day. In truth, though, that gulf could have extended to the street and into most American homes — including the White House, whose occupant has the actual power to send men and women into war.

But to have used that ticket I wish I did not possess for advantage would have betrayed the values of the America my nephew served. That America is one where a journalist or any citizen is certainly allowed, even encouraged, to question a government official who is beholden to the U.S. Constitution — not the man sitting in the Oval Office.

Opinion: Weighing the Costs of War and Diplomacy

John F. Kelly is getting a lot of criticism these days, and that’s understandable. As leader of the Department of Homeland Security, the retired Marine general now has to be more sensitive to the politics of any given situation.

So when he publicly said critics of his agency’s policies — whether they come from Congress, civil rights groups or the public — should “shut up,” he came off as what he once was, a military man giving orders. When the administration, Kelly’s department in particular, is challenged on its travel bans and inconsistent immigration enforcement, Kelly could do more listening and learning

But as America’s foreign policy and national security efforts become increasingly muscular and aggressive, there is some comfort in his presence among the rest of the men — and they are mostly men — advising President Trump and the members of Congress with power to approve or restrict military action and to balance the money spent on military and diplomatic efforts. Kelly is a member of that club no one wants to belong to — he lost his son in action — and he has another child in service.