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President Trump needs his own 'Luther' -- in reverse

By Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

Unfortunately, Trump's notorious tin ear for empathy may have mangled that message. Instead of comforting widow Myeshia Johnson, Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Florida Democrat and family friend, said Trump had upset her by seeming to forget her husband's name and showing an insensitive tone by saying Sgt. Johnson knew what he was signing up for.

Mrs. Johnson confirmed Wilson's account in an interview Monday on ABC's "Good Morning America."

Even if you think, as some do, that the congresswoman was wrong to rush to make the conversation public, Trump only made matters worse by attacking the congresswoman and insulting the family.

Unfortunately, Kelly blew his reverse-Luther role by failing to avoid wading into the mess that Trump had created. He accused Wilson of being a grandstanding "empty barrel" who took credit in 2015 for securing funding for a federal building in Miami named for two slain FBI agents. But a video of that event, which Kelly also attended, showed quite the opposite of the boasting that Kelly described.

Maybe his flawed memory was at fault. However, whatever the reason, it was another unforced error by an administration in which Kelly has the mammoth task of bringing order and dignity to an Oval Office that often seems mired in chaos.

Worse, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later brought a ridiculously Orwellian tone to her office by declaring it "highly inappropriate" to question a retired four-star general. In fact, generals are just as accountable to the public as any other public official.

That's why Trump needs his spokespeople to be reverse-Luthers, people who can calm the waters he constantly roils. That's not easy but they, too, know what they signed up for.

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(E-mail Clarence Page at cpage@chicagotribune.com.)

(c) 2017 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

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