You lost your boat in the wrong part of the world, Mr. President

There’s a scene from The West Wing in which Albie Duncan says to Jed Bartlet, “You lost your boat in the wrong part of the world, Mr. President.” Bartlet couldn’t stand Duncan, but he’d invite him to the White House in times of crisis because he wanted someone knowledgeable who was willing to speak truth to power. If only Donald Trump had anyone around him like Albie Duncan him this week, when he lost his own boat in the wrong part of the world – or pretended to lose the boat.

Donald Trump’s problem isn’t just that his administration is now claiming to have spent the past week not knowing where the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier was. His problem is that, as embarrassing as that admission is, no one believes it. It’s certainly possible for someone as absent as Trump to have been under the impression that he’d ordered an aircraft carrier to the Korean Peninsula, when in fact that aircraft carrier was instead three thousand miles to the south the whole time. But it’s not possible for gifted and experienced military minds like James Mattis and H.R. McMaster to have swung and missed on this.

When Mattis and McMaster claimed the Carl Vinson was on its way to North Korea, they were simply lying to the American public. Why? You’d have to ask them. But at this point we can’t even believe their explanation, because now we know they’re willing to lie on Trump’s behalf. This means that whatever good intentions these two solid military Generals may have had when they joined up with the Trump administration, he’s quickly compromised them to the point that they can no more be believed than someone like Sean Spicer.

So much for Donald Trump’s Generals being the one reasonable and trustable component of his otherwise dishonest, extremist, and massively incompetent White House. Mattis and McMaster are now reduced to pretending they lost a U.S. aircraft carrier for an entire week, just to back up Trump on whatever incoherent game he’s playing. It’s enough to make one wonder if Trump’s contagious dishonesty might have even been enough to corrupt Albie Duncan.

By the way, Albie Duncan was played by Hal Holbrook, who also played Deep Throat in All The President’s Men – the one who told Woodward and Bernstein how to take down Richard Nixon – so there’s another lesson for Trump in there somewhere. Watch Albie Duncan tell President Bartlet the he lost his boat on The West Wing:


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  1. Mary Kim on April 20, 2017 at 9:42 am

    Unless their lies were not for Trump, but to Trump, to avoid following his insane orders. I mean, if this was a plot-line for a novel it might make sense for two characters such as Mattis and McMasters to do this, considering the character like President Trump they’re dealing with. Not sure it makes sense within the real-life context of an actual U.S. administration in Washington, though. But it does make you wonder.

  2. Steve F on April 20, 2017 at 9:42 am

    Another explanation is that McMaster and Mattis lied to Trump or did not follow his orders to send the Vinson carrier group to prevent a direct confrontation with North Korea. Although having military commanders behave this way might be scary under normal circumstances, given the crazy way Trump is managing things, this may be what is desirable.

    • Bill Palmer on April 21, 2017 at 4:00 am

      This is possible, and it’s true, then it’s essentially a coup by unelected military leaders. Which might be even scarier in the long term than having Trump calling the shots, even if perhaps less dangerous in the short term.

  3. John Scharff on April 20, 2017 at 10:54 am

    I think there may be a good reason M & M claimed the Vinson was headed to North Korea when it was going the other way. They knew sending a lone battle group into the bee hive is insanity (Trumpthink). They were buying time; they knew where the Vinson was, they wanted to time it arriving with the rest of the Navy comming from the West Coast. In other words Trump is out of the true loop of power. Do you think with all the evidence out in the public they and the rest of the Intel/millitary have not sequestered Trump until he’s arrested? I think they’re just allowing him to try more coverups, purging of computer files, and with luck, communicating in a fearful panic with his handlers. I hope we are going to see a world-wide roundup of crooks and not a nuke used as a diversionary tactic.

  4. Fauxshammity on April 20, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    This is where I come to get all my news anymore. Thanks Bill, for being my eyes and ears.

    Keep up the great work.

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