Delivering bad news or consoling someone after a loss is never easy. Communicating in these instances is often awkward and uncomfortable for everyone involved. So it's quite a mystery why Rep. Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonDemocrats scramble to satisfy disparate members on spending package The Memo: Biden's immigration problems reach crescendo in Del Rio Frederica Wilson rails against Haitian deportation flights, calls treatment 'inhumane' MORE (D-Fla.) is making such an issue with the call the president placed to the family of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson after his heroic death fighting terrorism in Niger. To use this situation to score political points, attack the president, or advance an agenda is shameful.
Days after President Trump's telephone call to Johnson’s family, the media is still hungry for drama. Considering for a moment the possibility that words could have been taken out of context or misunderstood, surely it would have been appropriate for the president to have been afforded the opportunity to privately clarify his admiration and respect. Instead Wilson decided to use the situation, and worse, a grieving family, to attack a political adversary. It's a page straight out of the “never let a good crisis go to waste” playbook.
Given the rapid pace of the news cycle, it is understandable why those with an agenda will use a crisis as quickly as possible to advance a message. However, there should be some sense of privacy, decency, reverence provided to honor the victims, heroes, and those who love them.
Predictably, Trump reacted to the situation by disputing Wilson's account, tweeting, “The Fake News is going crazy with wacky Congresswoman Wilson(D), who was SECRETLY on a very personal call, and gave a total lie on content!”
Trump made some very important points. Why would he possibly allow such an accusation go unanswered? As commander in chief, he cannot allow such a wild accusation to harm the morale of those who protect us, or their support network.
In an effort to calm the situation, White House Chief of Staff Gen. John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE shared his own story of receiving that painful news when his son was killed in Afghanistan. He correctly pointed out that there is "no perfect way to make that phone call." General John Kelly eloquently describing how disappointed he was seeing the politicization of a fallen soldier. pic.twitter.com/hwblVvnW9u
General John Kelly eloquently describing how disappointed he was seeing the politicization of a fallen soldier. pic.twitter.com/hwblVvnW9u— The Columbia Bugle (@ColumbiaBugle) October 20, 2017
There is, however, a common sense of decency that not only Wilson lacks, but also many others who have jumped on the bandwagon to use this situation to be critical of the president. So many are revealing their own character as they pile on without regard for the message they are sending to soldiers and their families.
And as the drama has unfolded, ithas gone from shameful to absurd. Wilson described herself as a “rockstar” for generating this attention, serving to further distract from the veteran’s memory. She added, “Let me tell you what my mother told me when I was little. She said, ‘The dog can bark at the moon all night long, but it doesn’t become an issue until the moon barks back.'”
The death of American hero La David Johnson is sad and tragic. The fact that selfish politicians would use this event and a grieving family to score political points hurts us all. We must remember what truly matters, and we must not allow hate-filled political agendas to distract us from honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Dan Rene is a senior vice president in the public affairs practice at LEVICK, a strategic communications firm.