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:
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report