On Thursday, Oct. 26, while speaking at a Democratic gathering in Orangeburg, California Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters lambasted President Donald Trump over his interaction with recent Gold Star family members. She went so far as to claim Trump “has dishonored these Gold Star families,” referring to the family members of the four soldiers killed in Niger, and called for Trump’s impeachment.
Criticism of the president can be expected by someone from the far left like Waters, even going “over the top.” However, she went further in calling retired four-star Marine General and Gold Star father John Kelly a liar: “He (Kelly) lied for the president” and “no longer has credibility.” This sort of hypocrisy has become the norm of the left, and Democrats with any decency should condemn it.
For those who have not seen Kelly’s heartfelt press conference about being a Gold Star father (Gen. Kelly’s son died in combat in Afghanistan), I would highly recommend it. His remarks at that press conference are the basis of Waters charging Kelly as a liar.
Having served in combat in the same place, Helmand Province, as Kelly’s son was killed, I have a personal interest in the matter. That said, to any of those having experienced the loss of fellow soldiers, Kelly’s description of what happens with the bodies of those killed in action was on point. He went on to describe learning about his son’s death from his friend Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, who is now chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Dunford told Kelly: “He (Kelly’s son) was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed.” As Kelly put it, he found comfort in that sentiment.
Kelly helped advise Trump and was with Trump during his phone call to Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson. As it transpired, Trump was criticized for telling Myeshia her husband “knew what he signed up for.” Kelly’s press conference did not confirm nor deny the president’s tone of voice or whether the president used La David’s first name throughout the conversation, both points of contention for Myeshia and others. Kelly’s press conference was to explain his advice of what to say to Gold Star parents, and specifically about soldiers knowing what they volunteered to do.
Regardless of how the president’s remarks were perceived by Myeshia, Gold Star father and Marine Gen. John Kelly is not a liar for remarks during the press conference. Maxine Waters should be ashamed for openly defaming Gold Star father Kelly. She is guilty of exactly what she accuses Trump, even though Trump never called Myeshia a liar.
Having followed Waters for some time, I am unfortunately not surprised. She recently proclaimed she would “Take Trump out” as a seeming reference to assassination of the president. However, I am growing beyond disappointed that Democratic leaders, including those in South Carolina, aren’t showing a shred of decency by criticizing Waters’ remarks about Kelly.
I want to take this opportunity for a particular plea to one particular Democrat. South Carolina Democratic gubernatorial candidate James Smith accompanied me on the same advisory team to Southern Afghanistan where Kelly’s son was killed. I consider James a friend and fellow brother in arms, despite differing political opinions. After our experience there, he knows you do not call men like Kelly a liar for relating the story of his son being killed.
Kelly has truly given everything to this nation, including his son, and the Democratic Party cannot continue to excuse and condone this kind of hypocrisy. If the Democratic leaders in Orangeburg will not do it, I would call on James Smith to show that courage.
It is time to put the sacred off limits for political gamesmanship. The hypocrisy seen with so many on the far Left, like Maxine Waters, should stop. Calling Gold Star parents liars because they happen to be on the other side of the political divide must end. Let’s get back to our national values of putting certain things beyond politics. Let’s get back to becoming the nation many of us remember: One nation under God in which we honor those who have fallen in defense of her.
Orangeburg attorney Col. Bill Connor was the senior U.S. adviser to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, where he received the Bronze Star. He is the author of the book “Articles From War.” Among his multiple tours of duty in the Mideast, Connor served in a six-month peacekeeping mission between Egypt and Israel.