a lot of the old adventure flicks, especially
those dealing with ships or the military, a popular
theme was that of madmen or incompetents in positions
of authority. At some point, the Captain Bligh
moment would arrive. An example might go something
captain hauls the ship's cabin boy up in front
of the first mate. "Number one," the captain growls,
"this worthless wastrel failed to shine my boots
properly. Have him whipped to death."
a slight pause, and the first mate stammers, "Sir,
begging your pardon, but whipping the lad to death
is probably a violation of ships' code, and besides,
he's the only cabin boy we've got. Perhaps if
we put him on bread and water for two years..."
the captain turns to the cabin boy, eyes far too
bright and flickering, and wearing a big, brittle
grin, and says, "Cabin boy, have the first mate
whipped to death."
that point, everyone has a Captain Bligh moment.
The captain probably isn't the right man for the
job, the audience realizes, and leans forward,
trying to guess who is going to get whipped to
death and in what order.
the captain gets dumped on a desert island, or
eaten by a whale, or some damned thing, and everyone
wonders why anyone not in their right mind would
want to be a captain to begin with. In the Vietnam
version, the First Looie gets fragged when he
interrupts the squad in the middle of a fire fight
to make them do the required 50 early morning
jumping jacks and the Viet Cong pick off all but
two of them -- enough to frag the Looie.
hope a lot of people watched the press conference
Putsch threw Tuesday night, because a many, watching
him stammer and repeat nonsensical sound bites
and never answer any questions, probably had Captain
suspect Karl Rove and Condi Rice had, if not Captain
Bligh moments, at least the epiphany that this
moron probably isn't going to win in November,
because the media and public aren't going to give
him a free ride this time. He'll actually have
a record to defend, and even if that record was
particularly defensible, he wouldn't be up to
camera lit on them about two-thirds the way through
the conference, and while both were doing an admirable
job of keeping their faces utterly expressionless,
their body language showed their discontent with
how the press conference was going. One observer
remarked that he could almost hear Condi composing
her resume as Putsch spoke.
lot of liberals and Democrats tuned in, for the
simple reason that we were expecting something
like this to happen.
we were all incredulous, shaking our heads at
one another and grinning, even though it really
wasn't very funny. Everyone had their favorite
moment. Some liked his response to the question
about why he and Dick Cheney would be appearing
together in front of the 9/11 commission. Because
they wanted to talk to us. Well, yes, George,
that's very good, but what the reporters really
wanted to know is why the President of the United
States had to sit in the Vice President's lap
with the Veep's arm up the back of his shirt so
George could talk to the nice people on the commission.
They should make Dick drink from a glass of water
while Putsch is speaking.
lot of folks probably squinted and tilted their
heads when George was asked if he wanted to say
he was sorry to the victims of 9/11, and he started
babbling happily about Saddam Hussein. Yes, George,
we know there are evil doers out there, and many
of us regard you as one of them. But in this maddingly
complex world, Evil Doer "A" isn't Evil Doer "B"
-- not even when they speak the same language and
live in the same time zone.
for me, the highlight -- or lowlight -- was when
the one reporter asked George what he considered
his most regrettable move as president. There's
a lot of ways to finess a question like that.
"I regret I didn't get Congress to balance the
budget." "I regret I didn't move to kill Osama
bin Laden in the first eight months of my administration."
"I regret telling Laura she looked fat in that
dress and blaming it on choking on a pretzel."
Any adept politician could have handled a question
like that while shifting blame. Nixon was a master
of the "It's-his-fault-mistakes-were-made" genre
of accepting responsibility by blaming others.
couldn't even manage that, and instead groused
that he wished the reporter had submitted that
question in writing before the conference so he
would be prepared for it.
can't even pretend to be anything other than a
used to joust with the press. They would ask him
a bizarre question, such as "How does the agricultural
output of Bulgaria compare with export deficit
levels in Albania?" and he would rattle off, seemingly
without effort, a detailed ten minute analysis,
apparently without error. It was amazing to watch.
Putsch, asked the same question, would say something
like, "I don't think it's vulgar to make fun of
with the Chris Matthews interview a few months
ago, Putsch showed he was vacuous, hollow, ignorant.
The worst part is that he, and his followers,
seem so proud of it.
Captain, my Captain! Oh, who is my Captain? Could
it be that nobody's there at the helm? Can they
dare call it reason in the growing treason That
the king has somehow abdicated his realm?"
Porto Limon Jack Hardy
Posted: April 18, 2004