In the Sherlock Holmes story “The Adventure of Silver Blaze,” the key to the mystery was solved, in part, by a dog that didn’t bark. At the time of this writing, General John Kelly has yet to disavow authorship of the anonymous New York Times op-ed piece, “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.” In short Kelly is the dog that didn’t bark.
The true author of the piece, whom we referred to as “Lodestar” in a previous piece and shall again for the sake of this one, cannot be known definitively, but that doesn’t stop us from making educated guesses. However, there is something of a case for Lodestar being John Kelly. First, there’s access. As any fan of the TV drama “The West Wing” can tell you, no one has access to the President quite like the Chief of Staff – not cabinet members, not speech writers, certainly not the Vice President. Chief of Staff John Kelly enjoys virtual autonomy in his comings and goings from the Oval Office.
Next, and hence his title, he has the Staff. Surely Kelly understands the dangers of actually being Lodestar, and it may be that one of the reasons he has not been caught is because the op-ed piece is not the work of a single person but an ensemble. Kelly may have brought together one or more of his most trusted staff members to write it with him, knowing full well that forensic and linguistic examinations of the piece might point to authorship. But if a group of people wrote the piece, it may render such analysis useless.
Also there’s John Kelly himself. We know he’s frequently at odds with Trump, and we have long suspected he has served as a counterweight to some of Trump’s more over-the-top ideas. While the Uniform Code of Military Justice makes it a crime to utter disparagements about one’s ranking superior, including the president, General Kelly is on reliable record as having referred to Trump as an idiot, so it’s doubtful that the UCMJ is going to eliminate him as a viable candidate for Lodestar on that account. Again, we cannot say for certain who Lodestar is, but General John Kelly remains, without a doubt, the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.