Donald Trump tweeted, without irony, that Patrick Shanahan was resigning “to spend more time with his family.”
Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who has done a wonderful job, has decided not to go forward with his confirmation process so that he can devote more time to his family….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2019
With classic, if unintended understatement by Trump, yes, if ever a man needed to spend more time with his family, it is indeed Patrick Shanahan, for whatever good it would do. The story broke earlier today about how the FBI had been investigating a domestic violence allegation from 2011 involving Shanahan and his then-wife, but that was the tip of the iceberg. Eight years ago, Shanahan’s then-17-year-old son chased his mother into the laundry room and brutally attacked her with a baseball bat. That is the dark episode Shanahan is trying to bury. Washington Post:
In November 2011, Shanahan rushed to defend his then-17-year-old son, William Shanahan, in the days after the teenager brutally beat his mother. The attack had left Shanahan’s ex-wife unconscious in a pool of blood, her skull fractured, and with internal injuries that required surgery, according to court and police records.
Two weeks later, Shanahan sent his ex-wife’s brother a memo arguing that his son had acted in self-defense.
“Use of a baseball bat in self-defense will likely be viewed as an imbalance of force,” Shanahan wrote. “However, Will’s mother harassed him for nearly three hours before the incident.”
An imbalance of force, the man said? This is not only against the laws of man, it is against the laws of nature. This is Biblical, attempted matricide. And the laws of man are, just by the by, that somebody using deadly force on an unarmed opponent will not be deemed to be acting in self-defense. Not to mention that the “imbalance” here is a young male attacking an older female, who just happens to be his own mother. I’m not a psychologist, but I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here to state that this is pathological, if not psychotic behavior. In any event, Shanahan tried to double down on the statement and then gave up.
“That document literally was, I sat down with [my son] right away, and being an engineer at an aerospace company, you write down what are all of the mitigating reasons something could have happened. You know, just what’s the list of things that could have happened?” […]
“Quite frankly it’s difficult to relive that moment and the passage was difficult for me to read. I was wrong to write those three sentences,” Shanahan said.
“I have never believed Will’s attack on his mother was an act of self-defense or justified. I don’t believe violence is appropriate ever, and certainly never any justification for attacking someone with a baseball bat.”
Shanahan was married to his wife for 24 years. Their divorce file is 1,500 pages long and filled with incidents of fisticuffs, throwing food, objects, setting fire to things. The kid, William, sounds like a mafia hit man in training.
William, Sarasota police wrote, struck several blows to his mother’s head and torso and left her “to lie in a pool of blood” and then “unplugged the landline phone cord depriving the victim and [the younger brother] the use of 911 to render aid.”
As William fled the home, situated in an exclusive, barrier-island development called Bird Key just outside Sarasota, he “tossed a bottle of rubbing alcohol” to his younger brother and told him “you clean her up,” according to the police report.
William was charged with aggravated battery and tampering with a victim, which is an interesting spin on these facts, which scream attempted murder to any reasonable mind — but don’t get me started. An attorney friend of mine called me one day and said, “There are two systems of criminal justice in America, one for the rich and one for the poor. Anybody who thinks otherwise is a fool.” I believed the man then and I certainly believe him now. If this incident had taken place in a trailer park and not a ritzy gated community, the kid would be in prison as we speak.
Shanahan’s reaction to these events was to book his son a hotel room and hire a high-powered criminal defense lawyer. Now his words are that re-living this incident would ruin the lives of his young adult children. He seems hell bent on avoiding scandal, rather than deal with the shocking and gruesome nature of these events head on. His moral compass points in an interesting direction, wouldn’t you say?
Nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors and certainly not in the homes of the wealthy and elite. It’s good that Shanahan stepped down. If he can’t manage what goes on under his own roof, he’s going to be able to manage conflicts on the level of the responsibilities of the Secretary of Defense? I think it’s reasonable to think not. What is truly appalling, is that he apparently thought that he could keep this under the rug.
Again, certain themes are repeated in Trump world, ala Rob Porter and Brett Kavanaugh: it doesn’t matter what you do, especially if violence against women is involved, it only matters what they find out. Form over substance, always, always, always. It’s only the optics that count, never the truth.
And I’ll say this much: I’m sure that Kimberly Shanahan, the wife, was no angel either. To stay in an abusive relationship for that many years gives us a glimpse at her mental landscape as well, and the portrait is not flattering. Point being, this is, on it’s face, the record of a very sick and violent family, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say “depraved” and it’s a wonder that nobody staged any kind of an intervention before severe bodily injury was inflicted on one family member by another. This is humanity at it’s most grotesque and also it’s most sad. While on one level I feel deeply for the tragedy of the Shanahan family, I also believe that it’s best that somebody with this level of personal problems not be appointed to high office in government. There are a lot of screws missing here, and that’s putting it mildly.