Comment on: Is Trump Admiral Bull Halsey of Captain Queeg?
October 4, 2016
So—you tuned in hoping to see “Bull” Halsey? I suppose that was a reasonable expectation if the following propositions were true:
1. “Bull” Halsey was a draft dodger.
2. “Bull” Halsey was a cheat.
- “Bull” Halsey was a four-flusher.
- “Bull” Halsey was an ignoramus.
- “Bull” Halsey got his information from “the shows.”
I could go on—in fact, I could go on and on and on—but I hope you get the point. It’s that I’ve never seen this amount of self-delusion in one place at one time before. The mere act of instituting that comparison means your judgment ranks at zero, now and forever.
Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:
I wrote in the column that conservatives—not myself as you write—probably tuned into to see Trump as a Bull Halsey-like character, not as Captain Queeg of The Caine Mutiny. You do not understand the craft of allusion, metaphor, or simile. I suggested that Trump supporters probably thought he would come out in the first debate in speech and candor as aggressive and tough, in the manner that Admiral William “Bull” Halsey often employed tough rhetoric in World War II. Instead, I suggested that Trump’s confused debate performance reminded one of the neurotic fictional character Captain Queeg of the classic movie The Caine Mutiny, who melted down in courtroom rants about the trivial.
You strangely object to that narrow comparison because you seem to think that the life Trump has lived does not match the heroism of Halsey. True, but my limited comparison was to the impulsive Halsey’s combative language, not inclusive relative morality. According to your simplistic logic, Trump commensurately also could not be compared to the neurotic Queeg because Queeg never existed—he was first a fictional and later a cinematic character. So I am also not allowed to note the comparison between Trump and Queeg because it would be unfair to the non-person Queeg: the phantom of literature and film whose made-up life might not have been akin to Trump, the “four-flusher”?
The arrogance and puerility of your angry letter (“It’s that I’ve never seen this amount of self-delusion in one place at one time before. The mere act of instituting that comparison means your judgment ranks at zero, now and forever.”) only add to your utter confusion about comparisons to limited rhetorical characteristics of real and fictional characters.
Finally, if I were to say on occasion that Mitt Romney was Kennedyesque, in some of his better rhetorical moments, would the blinkered Acker then object that the comparison between the morally upright Romney and the dissolute and often abhorrent sexual practices of John F. Kennedy made the narrow rhetorical allusion unfair to Romney?
In sum, the angry letter is utterly incoherent, reminding us that ignorance and arrogance are a lethal combination.