John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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Mutiny on the Bounty

Posted on October 21, 2019
Donald Trump is a combination of Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney and Charles Laughton.

Bogart starred as Captain Queeg in “The Caine Mutiny.” Cagney played Captain Morton in “Mr. Roberts.” And Laughton was one of the stars in the 1932 classic “Mutiny on the Bounty.”

In each drama, these stars of the screen played insecure, domineering, inscrutable and unstable villains who angered their crews and whose own actions led to them being displaced by their subordinates.

Hollywood loves a good mutiny story.

And boy, do we have one in Washington today.

But all of these Hollywood stories have a cautionary ending.

Each character who led the insurrection against the leader ended up either disgraced or dead, whether it be Henry Fonda in “Mr. Roberts,” Van Johnson in “The Caine Mutiny” or Clark Gable in “Mutiny on the Bounty.”

It is fashionable in the media to make stars out of those former members of the military who are willing to go on the record condemning the character and the actions of President Trump.

Retired Adm. William McRaven, who became famous for urging University of Texas graduates to get up early and make their beds during a commencement address, called Trump a threat to the Republic and urged that he be removed from office.

Retired general and former Secretary of Defense James Mattis was more subtle in his condemnation of the current occupant of the White House, “I earned my spurs on the battlefield ... Donald Trump earned his spurs in a letter from a doctor.”

The military is by far the most respected institution in America, perhaps the only respected institution left. And that gives former members of our armed forces a big platform from which they can spout their views.

Because this is America, and because we have a Constitution, they have the right to say whatever they want, especially now that they are outside the chain of command.

But it is not the military or former members of the military who should be deciding these things or indeed who should be opining on them.

Calling for the removal of the president because you disagree with his policy decisions in places like Syria is not wise and yes, more than a little bit dangerous.

I may not like everything that this president says or does, but I do respect that he won the White House, fair and square, and that he campaigned on many of the same things that he is attempting to do today.

He wants to pull our troops out of places like Afghanistan and Syria. This is no secret. He has long made it known that he is not happy with our troops fighting endless wars in faraway places with no exit plan and no possibility for a total victory.

I don’t think the president’s views are uniquely held by him. Sure, pulling out of Kurdish-held Syria precipitously was perhaps not the greatest look for the Trump administration or for America in general, but since when is it our job to mediate a centuries-long beef between the Kurds and the Turks, especially since we have an actual signed alliance with Turkey?

McRaven also doesn’t like the content of the president’s character, nor his language, nor his decisionmaking process, nor his obvious lack of historic knowledge and he has made clear those concerns in a series of columns.

But once again, none of this is a secret. It was well-played out during an exhaustive Republican primary and during a heated general election.

Trump is not some sort of Manchurian candidate who dramatically changed once he got into office. I daresay he hasn’t changed all that much in his approach or in his promises.

Calling for the president to be deposed sooner rather than later is ill-considered and anti-democratic. In America, we have elections if we don’t like what our leaders are doing.

McRaven might be a great guy and he might have a sterling record, but if he doesn’t like Trump, he should throw his hat in the ring and run.

His comments are like Mutiny on the Bounty, except without the exotic Polynesian women.