Asheville Daily Planet, December 2017

Robert E. Lee never wrote is memoirs. Of course, he only lived five years after the War.  But his papers seem to say that he didn’t want to revisit some of his life decisions.  You see, he was a man with regrets.  All his adult life, for example, he regretted taking the free education option of West Point.  He wanted to be a civil engineer.

Some people are like Lee. They regret – things they did in the past, something they didn’t say, an opportunity they missed.  They engage in self-reflection or self-criticism.

Other people are not like Lee. They shrug off their past.  What’s done is done.  Or the past is somebody else’s fault.  Or they purposely “live in the moment.”

I’ve wondered recently about people who work in the Trump White House – will they regret their time there. I particularly wonder about three people: Donald Trump himself, John Kelly and Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

I’m going to make predictions here on how these people will feel when their time with Trump ends. Without doubt huge events lie ahead for Trump.  I can only base my predictions on the present continuing into the future.  Here goes.

It’s easy to say that the Big Guy will never regret anything. He’s said on many occasions, like he did with Anderson Cooper, “Why do I have to repent or ask forgiveness if I am not making mistakes?”

But look at it this way. Here’s a guy famous for a lifetime of big real estate deals, who had been given the title, The Donald.  Here was a TV star with class and power and millions of fans.  And this guy, maybe just for the kick of it, runs for president and gets elected – and in so doing exposed himself as ignorant, unpatirotic, without ethics or morals, a liar and betrayer nd more.

Trump might, of course, find great success against North Korea or bring Arab-Israeli peace and smile and gloat in retirement. But if the present continues and turns terrible for him, he will regret.  When he’s famous as a fool, he will regret.  His no-apologies persona is nothing but a bully’s bluster that won’t be there when he’s alone with himself.

John Kelly was the ultimate Marine. He rose through the ranks, from teenaged recruit to four-star general.  He went into retirement in 2016 as a superstar.

In less than a year, he joined the Trump Administration, and like a good military man, he declared: “I work for one man. His name is Donald Trump.”

In uniform, he was a link in the chain of command. Everything was in a straight line. His job was to receive orders from respected men above him and lead those below him in carrying them out. And he was good at it.

Now the man above him has no straight lines, and Kelly is the office lackey. Trump sent him out before the press, metaphorically naked, to defend his side in the Gold Star widow quarrel . His prepared remarks were excellent. But disaster came at the end. He revealed elements of himself that his Marine uniform had concealed.  He called African-American Congresswoman Frederica Wilson – a friend of the Gold Star family – a loud “empty barrel” and blasted her with an anecdote that proved to be entirely erroneous. He has refused to apologize.

He came off as unreasonable, a hair trigger, even a lair and a racist. The shining general went dull in a hurry.

Then in the context of defending Trump’s “both sides” reaction to Charlottesville, Kelly went out of his way to say “the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War.” Yeow. The entire 19th century was one compromise after another to hold the Union together! And Kely comes off as ignorant.

Will Kelly wish he had retired peacefully, with general adoration? You bet he will. His White Houe time makes us think far less of him..

Sarah Huckabee Sanders? Not many words needed for her.

She touts herself as a “person of faith.” She apologized to her fundamentalist parents for a barroom allegory she used to illustrate tax reform.

But almost every day, she’s telling lies like beads on a string – some she gets from official talking points but some she makes up on the spot.

Faithful to her faith? No, she’s a serial liar. But will she regret her lapses? Heck, no. She’ll be a hero among evangelicals for standing with Trump!