07:46:12 am on
Saturday 20 Jul 2024

Blame it on Breakfast
David Simmonds

White House Chief of Staff, Retired US Marine General John Kelly,
pines for a breakfast of sausage and pancakes, not pastries.

One of the icons of the late two thousand and teen years is undoubtedly Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House Press Secretary. Best known for her stone-faced denials of various Trump misstatements and misdeeds, she has recently evoked a little public sympathy following some crude jokes and a restaurant eviction. Imagine, asked to leave a neighbourhood eatery because she you on television most afternoons of the week.

Kelly grimaces as Trump speaks.

 Sanders really outdid herself a few days ago, with a ringing defence of President Trump at the expense of his chief of staff, John Kelly. During a breakfast meeting at the NATO summit, held in Brussels, a photographer caught John Francis Kelly, the retired United States Marine Corps general who is currently Chief of Staff for the White House, looking decidedly askance as his boss held court. It was as if Kelly were trying to pretend he wasn’t in the room, experiencing the magic of President Trump, as he spoke. The president, by the way, was explaining to all gathered, at his feet, how Germany was controlled by Russia.

When challenged, on the apparently sour disposition of the countenance of Kelly, Sanders said, in a formal statement to the Washington Post, that although Kelly might have looked displeased, this had nothing to do with the excellence of remarks by Trump, with which he, Kelly, fully agreed. Rather, Kelly was upset, she said, “Because he was expecting a full breakfast and there were only pastries and cheese.” This is not the first time a photographer caught Kelly beside the president with a displeased expression on his face. It is the first time what-is-for-breakfast caught the blame.

Now, although Kelly may be a proud bacon and egg man, of long standing, I think he would be within his rights to take issue with Sanders. Her explanation suggests Kelly turns publicly petulant when he doesn’t get the meal he expects, nor does he have the intestinal fortitude to suck it up and make up for the thin continental breakfast later by having an extra sandwich at lunch or a big steak for supper. Essentially, it calls into doubt his ability to disguise his emotions in the interests of his country and implies he would be an easy mark in a poker tournament.

Trump team Belgian breakfasts.

Sanders also managed to insult Belgians over their pastries and cheese. I have been to Belgium. I have eaten Belgian pastries and cheese, which are of the highest quality.

I can’t imagine Trump and Kelly received day-old goods because they were cheaper than fresh. If the food was indeed fresh, then if Kelly was so darned hungry, why didn’t he simply help himself to another pastry or more cheese? I doubt that, had he reached for more, the head of NATO would have interrupted him in mid maneuver, saying “Excuse me Kelly, but there’s only one croissant each: we’re saving the leftovers for the staff.” By implying nobody should get stuck with just pastries and cheese for breakfast, Sanders is insulting every regular consumer of a continental breakfast, which includes, funny enough, just about everybody on the continent.

Perhaps, Sanders has uncovered a diplomatic stealth technique used against Trump by his NATO allies. Maybe the new hardball-negotiating tactic is to deny American foreign delegations a sausage and pancake breakfast. Perhaps there will have to be a mandatory ‘eat American’ programme required of diplomats before they adventure to such out of the way climes as Belgium and England. Maybe the USA should release a travel advisory urging its citizens to eat a series of American style breakfasts before heading off to France or Italy to see the Louvre or the Coliseum.

Even though the substance of the statement from Sanders doesn’t withstand logical scrutiny, I nevertheless give her credit for opening up a new range of excuses for a displeased countenance. That could work as a positive force. For example, perhaps the premiers of British Columbia and Alberta will back down from their standoff and save face by announcing that they were suffering from food poisoning, caused by federal catering, when hostilities were at their peak.

Kelly bites one for Trump.

If some good can come of this, then thank you, Saunders and Kelly, whose stomach I imagine I hear rumbling. Thank you, too, those whose dignity I hear disintegrating as Kelly takes another one for the Trump team.


Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Pete Hamill and Mike Barnacle; the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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