Thursday, January 18, 2018

Gutierrez offers Kelly an apology, and all it took was the White House chief of staff implying Donald Trump, misspoke

I always take apologies by government officials half-seriously.

GUTIERREZ: A 'lo siento' from 'el Gallito'
They’re usually less-than-sincere, and more motivated by some official’s desire that the public stop talking about something perceived as a gaffe.

RARELY ARE THE officials actually regretful that they said something stupid. They just wish everybody else would agree with them instead of the other guy.

So when I learned that soon-to-be retiring Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., was apologetic Wednesday toward White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, I was skeptical.

Gutierrez, who has used his decades of time in Congress to try to make himself the Voice of Latinos across the nation rather than just in his Latino-enclave district in Chicago, has been critical of Kelly for saying he opposes the demise of the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program.

The program is meant to make it possible for young people who came to this country without a valid visa to exist openly in this country. It is a part of the Barack Obama presidential legacy that Donald Trump is most anxious to abolish.

GUTIERREZ HAS SAID that Kelly, a former Marine Corps general, is “a hypocrite,” “mean” and “a disgrace to the uniform he used to wear.”


But on Wednesday, when Kelly met with several members of Congress to discuss the future of DACA and immigration reform, the Chicago politico who has been outspoken since his days as an alderman made a point of publicly apologizing for his past rhetoric.

KELLY: Accepted the apology
The Washington Post reported that Kelly accepted the apology, telling everybody “we all say or do stupid things.” But then later told Gutierrez that the public apology “means a lot.”

NOW MAYBE GUTIERREZ wants to create the impression of being the bigger man in the ongoing immigration debate.

But one also has to consider that at that same meeting with congressmen, many of whom were members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Kelly tried to give the impression that all of his boss, Donald Trump’s, talk about demanding a barrier be erected along the U.S./Mexico border before any talk of immigration reform or DACA preservation could proceed was, to put it simply, cheap.

Now one can argue the cliché “talk is cheap” applies to all government officials.

But Kelly let it be known that, deep down, Trump knows that a border wall along the 1,900-mile stretch of desert separating the two nations is impractical. He even told them they shouldn’t take it too seriously when Trump says he’s going to force Mexico’s government to pay for the barricade that Trump insists will cut off the flow of people headed northbound into the U.S.

TRUMP, OF COURSE, continues to insist he really means it when he makes such threats. In recent days, he has insisted that DACA will die, no matter how much it will hurt young people who have established their lives in this country. And it’s all the Democrats’ fault because they won’t go along with his wall talk.

Kelly, however, said that Trump’s hostile talk during his 2016 presidential campaign was that of an “uninformed” candidate, and that he is learning about the ways of government. It’s that old argument we shouldn’t take Trump too seriously. Which sounds much like the old line about Mayor Richard J. Daley’s inarticulate manner of speaking when they said, “write what (Daley) means, not what he says.”

TRUMP: Who knows what he really means!
Perhaps such talk from Kelly did put Gutierrez in the proper frame of mind to want to say “I’m sorry” to someone who had in the past spoken out against the interests of the people whom Gutierrez sees as his larger constituency.

Or maybe he was just wanting to make sure Kelly didn’t wind up using him as an excuse to later come back and shoot down some immigration deal, just because Gutierrez once felt the need to be critical. Then again, anybody familiar with Chicago politics throughout the years would know Luis didn’t get the nickname of El Gallito (the little rooster) by being meek as a mouse!


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