Oct 7, 2017

A civilian salute to John Kelly's new reality

Kelly reacts as Trump calls North Korea a "band of criminals" during his address to the U.N. on Sept. 19. Photo: Mary Altaffer / AP

You are White House Chief of Staff John Kelly:

  • You are a true America hero — enlisting in the Marines and rising to become a highly decorated four-star general who once ran the entire U.S. Southern Command.
  • You gave your life to service. Your son, Marine Lt. Robert Kelly, 29, gave his in service, killed after stepping on a landmine while leading a platoon in Afghanistan.
  • Now, you spend your days cleaning up messes all around your Commander, the actual Commander-in-Chief — a guy who dodged the draft, and taunts or tramples on many of the things you feel and believe deep in your bones. Everyone knows you don't share his views, values or politics.
  • Most of your days, like those of your friend Rex Tillerson, blow.
  • You spend most of your time killing bad things: bad ideas, bad information flow, bad habits. You inherited an Island of Misfit Toys, and tossed out the most obnoxious ones.
  • You run a tight ship during workdays -- but lose total control of the wheel when your boss goes rogue, which is most nights, most mornings, most weekends.
  • Now scattered, Trump originals ask what exactly it means for you to do your duty as chief of staff. You feel your duty is to protect the nation from POTUS.
  • But some Trump loyalists won't concede that you're always right and DJT is always wrong. They think that sometimes it's their duty to subordinate their opinions to his. They ask: What's patriotic about thwarting the duly elected POTUS?
  • You cringe and sometime rage when you see the nasty tweets, the childish taunts, the wild improvisation.
  • You start watching Fox just to see what he sees, and read Breitbart for a glimpse of the world through the President's eyes.
  • You plot with Tillerson and SecDef Mattis and National Security Adviser McMaster, and find comfort and camaraderie in your pact to save the world from an impulsive president.

It's a worthy war — but often one you fear you are losing. No wonder you've been caught on camera with an exasperated face pressed firmly against your hand. It's a civilian salute to your new reality.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 p.m. ET: 1,595,350 — Total deaths: 95,455 — Total recoveries: 353,975Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 p.m. ET: 461,437 — Total deaths: 16,478 — Total recoveries: 25,410Map.
  3. Public health latest: U.S. has expelled thousands of migrants under a CDC public health orderDr. Anthony Fauci said social distancing could reduce the U.S. death toll to 60,000.
  4. Business latest: The Fed will lend up to $2.3 trillion for businesses, state and city governments — After another 6.6 million jobless claims, here's how to understand the scale of American job decimation.
  5. States latest: FEMA has asked governors to decide if they want testing sites to be under state or federal control.
  6. World latest: Lockdowns have led to a decline in murders in some of the world's most violent countries — Boris Johnson is moved out of the ICU but remains in hospital with coronavirus.
  7. In Congress: Senate in stalemate over additional funding for small business relief program.
  8. 1 SNL thing: "Saturday Night Live" will return to the air this weekend with a remotely produced episode.
  9. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredPets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Federal court temporarily blocks coronavirus order against some abortions

Gov. Greg Abbott. Photo: Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled Thursday that clinics in Texas can immediately offer medication abortions — a pregnancy termination method administered by pill — and can also provide the procedure to patients nearing the state's time limits for abortions.

Driving the news: The decision comes after federal appeals court ruled 2-1 on Tuesday in favor of an executive order by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott that prohibits abortions during the coronavirus outbreak.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

The view from the other side of the coronavirus peak

We'll soon be crowding into cafes it's 1954 in Rapallo, Italy. Photo: LIFE Picture Collection via Getty

Europeans and Americans are desperate to move beyond the worst of the crisis and return to something approximating normality, but the World Health Organization is cautioning that moving too fast will undermine the sacrifices made so far.

Where things stand: Nearly every country on Earth is still seeing their caseload increase, and a recent uptick in Singapore shows that apparent victory over the virus can be fleeting. But several countries are providing reason for optimism.

Go deeperArrow1 hour ago - World