October 10, 2020

TOTALLY UNFAIR: QUEEQ HAD SERVED HIS COUNTRY HONORABLY FOR DECADES:

Trump's Captain Queeg Crackup: Yesterday's bonkers behavior--from his paranoid tweets to his f-bomb on Rush Limbaugh's show to his bizarre pseudo-checkup on Fox--show he has gone utterly around the bend. (RICHARD NORTH PATTERSON,   OCTOBER 10, 2020, The Bulwark)

Was it only yesterday that I analogized Donald Trump to an ersatz Wizard of Oz afflicted with a disabling psychological condition? In the profoundly disturbing hours since, Trump has evoked an even more emblematic and instructive fictional character: Captain Philip Francis Queeg of Herman Wouk's Pulitzer prize-winning novel of World War II, The Caine Mutiny.

Queeg is a frightening, pitiable caricature of naval leadership whose increasingly dangerous behaviors compel his officers to save their ship by seizing command. Perhaps you've seen the movie, anchored in Humphrey Bogart's indelible rendition of a man cracking up before our eyes, raving on the witness stand about "disloyal" officers until becoming incoherent. But not even Bogart could capture, nor Wouk imagine, the terrifying self-indictment of a president far sicker than Captain Queeg.

Nonetheless, the fictional Queeg serves as prototype for the all-too-real Trump--and the dilemma he presents us. Queeg is incompetent, paranoid, given to bullying, prone to blame-shifting, obsessed with appearances, unable to admit error, and determined at all costs to cover up grievous misjudgments and mistakes.

As evidence of their captain's mental fragility accumulates, his officers fear that he may crack under pressure. But after resolving to report his behaviors to a higher authority, they temporize.

The crisis comes--a deadly typhoon in the Pacific. Inevitably, Queeg's panicky misjudgments threaten to capsize the Caine. In extremis the captain's second-in-command, supported by his fellow officers, displaces him to save the ship.

Over the last 24 hours, Trump's statements provide an uncanny parallel to the behaviors which moved Queeg's officers to consider turning him in. 

Posted by at October 10, 2020 8:53 AM

  

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