Sarah Huckabee Sanders is wrong about John Kelly

Of all the repellent statements issued by President Trump or his aides, the one that came out of the mouth of Sarah Huckabee Sanders last week was maybe the most chilling. There she stood, asking a White House reporter who the hell he thought he was to question the veracity of John F. Kelly, Trump’s chief of staff, who had just smeared a congresswoman. “If you want to go after General Kelly, that’s up to you,” she cautioned. “If you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that that’s something highly inappropriate.”

.. Did Kelly lie or did he misremember? I prefer the second choice, but either way, the stars he once wore on his shoulder do not immunize him. The rank I referred to above — mere citizen — is the one you and I hold. It is the one George Washington chose when he resigned his commission before becoming president of the United States.

.. But there is something else at work here: the slavish veneration now accorded the military. You can see it every time someone in uniform testifies before Congress. “Thank you for your service,” comes the chorus of those who treat four-stars as if they were physicians who risk their lives to work with Ebola sufferers.

.. Military men and women have become exotics — less than 1 percent of Americans are currently serving.

.. only 18 percent of Congress has ever served. Back in 1971, the figure was 72 percent of the House and 78 percent of the Senate. Those members knew from experience that a star can be just a piece of metal. It is certainly not a halo.

.. Sanders was relying on the current veneration of the military to deflect criticism of Kelly. It was tawdry of her to do so, if only because it was Kelly and no one else who managed to call into question his vaunted competence. He brought dishonor to his office