Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

John Kelly, the NATO summit, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders' breakfast lies

Kat Kinsman
July 13, 2018

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was recently tasked with parsing the reasons behind the visibly uncomfortable body language of White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly. Seated at a breakfast meeting ahead of the 29th annual NATO summit in Brussels, Kelly, who is 68 years of age, at various points contorted his face, dug into his ear, adjusted his tie, looked away with his lips pursed, and moved his body away from his dining companion, President Donald J. Trump, who was using the opportunity to tell NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that "Germany is totally controlled by Russia," and that NATO policies for dealing with Russia were making Russia richer.

However, according to a statement Sanders gave the Washington Post, this display was not in any way related to Trump’s proclamations, but rather the fact that he "was displeased because he was expecting a full breakfast and there were only pastries and cheese." The breakfast, which Stoltenberg said eventually included "eggs and toast and orange juice and some good fruit salad ... paid for by the United States" had not yet been served, so we may only conclude that Kelly spied the paltry foodstuffs hanging out on a guéridon in the hallway, or he is lactose and gluten-intolerant, or he'd spent his copious free time before the summit coordinating with the catering staff, and they'd fouled up his order. Or, you know, Sanders is telling a breakfast lie.

But can you blame him? Who among us hasn't sat down in the company of the leaders of the free world and not gotten a little cranky in the tum-tum when they couldn't get their Trix, and instead had to settle for boring ol', cruddy ol' European pastries and cheese? What does Belgium know about breakfast? TONS! A Belgian breakfast is usually breads with spreads like Nutella or sirop de Liège, sliced meats, the aforementioned fromage… oh maybe that was the problem? Was Belgium's signature Limburger a skosh too fragrant for his sensibilities? That probably was it.

Or maybe he was hoping for an opulent Belgian waffle spread, with berries and and ice cream and chocolate sauce and all the whipped cream a highly decorated general could ever hope to enjoy. But oops! Belgian waffles aren't actually a thing in Belgium—they were introduced at the 1964 World's Fair in Queens by two Belgian brothers, Maurice and Rose Vermersch, who originally called them "Brussels waffles," but figured that most Americans wouldn't know where that was. But not General Kelly! He knew exactly where he was and what he had his heart set on, and what he wanted was his big boy breakfast, so he got all fussy and cranky in his chair. And that's the story we're all supposed to swallow.


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