I am grateful for your immense public service over your career and what you have sacrificed for our country along the way. I am also sorry for the loss of your son and the grief that has caused and must continue to cause you and your family. Having lost a son and a daughter (though they were gone long before they could join the military) I have great empathy for the immense, unmeasurable pain of a parent losing a child. No parent should have to bury a son or daughter.
Though I didn’t lose my oldest son, he did serve two tours in Iraq in the Army, and most of my nights while he was away were fitful and fearful. And the danger he was in filled my days with worry. Also, I remember full well in October 2004 when my son was entering the service and going to be deployed, the commander in chief I worked for, President George W. Bush, and the first lady, took time out of their busy campaign schedule to meet with him privately in a heart-wrenching moment I will never forget. I also have an older brother who served more than 20 years in the Coast Guard, and a younger brother who served in the Marines in Panama and Kuwait, both in very dangerous situations. So while I don’t have your exact experiences, I do have my own which have informed me.
Your speech at Thursday’s press briefing was emotional and touching in parts, but other moments I felt a huge disconnect between what you were saying and your job each day at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I have a very simple question: do you know who you work for? I ask this for the following reasons:
1. You spoke of how you were disgusted by the congresswoman from Florida, Frederica Wilson, for politicizing the condolence call President Trump made to the family of fallen Sgt. La David Johnson, but you know full well that this issue became political because of your boss. He started us down this road because he wouldn’t take responsibility for his own actions in the aftermath of the ambush on American troops in Niger, and sought to blame previous presidents for how they handled themselves when soldiers were killed.
2. You spoke about how women are no longer treated as sacred and I think you were alluding to the allegations of Harvey Weinstein’s despicable behavior. But you do know your boss has called female anchors, female presidential candidates, beauty contestants, actresses, etc. some of the most disrespectful names, and bragged in a moment caught on tape about how he likes to treat women in a predatory way. By last count, about a dozen women have courageously come forward to say that they were treated improperly by your boss (accusations he has vehemently denied).
3. You talked about how Gold Star families and the military are no longer treated as sacred, but I am sure you know that candidate Trump attacked a Gold Star family in the midst of a campaign in order to sow dissent and score political points. This same candidate — your boss — dismissed Republican Sen. John McCain’s service and said he wasn’t a hero because he was captured.
4. You talked about how religion is no longer treated as sacred, but you work for a person who wanted to ban Muslims from our country, and who seems gravely unfamiliar with the Sermon on the Mount as well as how we should treat each other with respect, dignity, love and compassion. As a candidate, he also said he never asked God for forgiveness, a major tenet of every faith in the world.
I know my question is probably a bit rhetorical, but you are chief of staff to the president. As such, your words didn’t match up to that vaunted position. I hope as you move forward, you’ll remember you work for us, the American people, and the thing many of us hold sacred is integrity. I also hope you’ll remember that people want leaders who say and do what they mean. And one day, I hope you can explain to all of us how your service today fits in with the words you used at the podium in our House.
PS: I agree with you about contacts to the families of the fallen. Let’s go back to the time of well-thought out letters handwritten on presidential stationary. If it was good enough for Abraham Lincoln, it should be good for all presidents.