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Alabama Politics

I saw Crimson Tide about a week ago. There was the scene when Captain Frank Ramsey, played so well by Gene Hackman, is waiting with his executive officer Lieutenant Commander Ron Hunter, played wonderfully by Denzel Washington, for radio contact to be restored. The captain starts talking about the Lipizzaner stallions. I found it interesting that the most highly trained horses in the world were born black but turn as white as any horse on the planet. I saw it as a perfect analogy for how some talented and high profile black people, through intensive education and training akin to the cattle prod applied electric voltage up the ass approach suggested by the captain, will shed their black community affiliation for the much more appealing affiliation with the dominant community. Many high profile black people are harder on less fortunate black people than any white conservative can ever be. I recorded the show on the DVR for later reference.

This morning I picked up the remote and decided to do my post. I fast forward to the scene in the command center of the nuclear submarine where the executive officer is attempting to get the ship up to periscope depth in order to reestablish radio contact and determine if indeed a third world war has started with nuclear missiles the weapon of choice. The captain punches the executive officer twice in the face in order to force the X-O to comply with orders and allow the submarine to fire her missiles. The X-O refuses and the captain rages. The captain has already threatened to murder one of the lower ranked crewmen, petty officer Hilaire, in order to force the weapons officer to unlock the safe holding the tactical firing trigger to the nuclear missiles. The captain is ready to win the war at any and all cost.  The X-O remains unflappable and willing to take a chance that things are not as dire as we may believe, even at the expense of being physically assaulted by an old white man whose greatest fear is appearing weak.

Suddenly there was a bigger analogy at play here and it manifested itself right before my eyes. I couldn’t help but see an analogy between John McCain as Captain Frank Ramsey and Barack Obama as Lieutenant Commander Hunter. Right there on film I saw the captain as Mr. McCain, a seasoned military professional with tons of experience and patriotism oozing out of every orifice of his body with his totally simplistic view of the world where nothing is more important than duty to the politicians who run America. Before my very eyes I saw the X-O as Mr. Obama, trying to apply rational reasoning to a crazy situation that could literally destroy the very country everyone loves.

I saw the men of the Alabama weighing the choices between supporting their captain and supporting the executive officer. The captain has no reservation against killing. And it appears there are a number of men in the crew of the USS Alabama that feel the same way. On the other hand, there are a number of men in the crew who are not comfortable being the catalyst for a calamity that could devastate the world. The radio was damaged right in the middle of receiving a message during a violent exchange of torpedoes with an Akula-class Russian submarine. The message could have been an order to stand down.

While the majority of the crew has a history of working together, the executive officer is new to the crew and a lot of the men aren’t ready to trust him. Regardless of the clarity of the situation some of the crew just doesn’t know what Mr. Hunter’s motivations are. The fact that if the Alabama fires her missiles they are guaranteeing war is lost in most people’s reasoning. An order is an order. And until an order is properly rescinded with another order the order stands. Blind obedience to patriotic fervor is what is required. As the crisis escalates, Captain Ramsey portrays the X-O as an upstart Harvard graduate who does not respect the chain of command and is too arrogant to understand that he is just a small cog in the military machine.

Today, Barack Obama has just returned from his whirlwind tour of Europe and the Middle East. Prior to this trip, Mr. McCain complained that the presumptive Democratic nominee did not visit Iraq or Afghanistan and is therefore not qualified to be the person to lead the country out of these predicaments. Not only did Mr. Obama go to those two countries, he’s gone to Germany, Israel, Palestine, France, and Britain. He may have visited more but that’s all I remember off the top of my head. By any measure the Senator from Illinois looked more presidential than anyone seeking or holding the oval office in a long time. And now Mr. McCain complains that Barack Obama is too presumptuous and too arrogant to be going overseas and talking in a presidential capacity.

A lot of people in America act like the unfortunate crew of the USS Alabama. We don’t know whether to follow the man who has the experience and is more than ready to wear his patriotism front and center like a freshly pressed shirt with just a tad too much starch or whether we want to follow the man who might be willing to take a more intelligent approach to the problem at hand who will be willing to temper his patriotism in order to do what’s right not just for his country but for everyone under the assumption that waiting leaves the country vulnerable to an attack. We don’t know whether to follow the man who we already have a tried and true relationship with and are aware of all his leanings or to follow the man who is new and has yet to prove himself. The old adage that experience is always best doesn’t always fly straight and true. All too often more experience leads to an assumption of correctness which is in itself a manifestation of arrogance.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008 - Posted by | Barack Obama, Democrats, John McCain, Life, Politics, Republicans, Thoughts


  1. Word!

    I need to get me a DVR!

    Comment by Damien | Tuesday, July 29, 2008 | Reply

  2. Thanks for the feedback Damien,


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, July 29, 2008 | Reply

  3. I actually served in the Navy on submarines (and did a run on one of the missile carrying submarines). Much of what they showed about submarine life and the community was, well, BS, even though the movie was a thriller.

    As far as who to follow, I think it is simple. If you like the way that the last 8 years have gone, vote for McCain. If you think that intelligence, creativity and knowledge are virtues, vote for Obama.

    Comment by blueollie | Tuesday, July 29, 2008 | Reply

  4. Thanks for the feedback blueollie,

    I always wondered how accurate submarine service is portrayed. But what do I know? I was ready to buy into the portrayal of a Scott (Sean Connery) as a Russian sub commander in Hunt For Red October with a lisp!

    As far as John McCain and Barack Obama goes, I don’t think either one is perfect. American politics does little to promote honesty and much to promote suspicion.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, July 29, 2008 | Reply

  5. Personally I don’t know if I could trust the old head McCain, despite his service and knowledge of military and foreign policy intertwining.

    However, I also don’t know if I could trust the new, fresher Obama. I think he has preconceived notions [about] how things can go. Maybe he’s right, but I think the right path lies somewhere in the middle of their two very different approaches.

    Comment by Mike Lovell | Tuesday, July 29, 2008 | Reply

  6. Thanks for the feedback Mike Lovell,

    I know I don’t care for Mr. McCain. He’s too much like Mr. Bush for my comfort. The last seven years have been disastrous and he promises to keep things on the same path. I think Mr. McCain is Bush full throttle. But Mr. Obama frightens me as well. If his relationship with people in the black community is any indication I’m not sure if he really intends to make a change or if he is politics as usual. More and more he looks like politics as usual. But nevertheless, the Alabama analogy hit too close to home to be ignored.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, July 29, 2008 | Reply

  7. Excellent analogies! I love this movie… I have it on DVD. The scene where they are talking about the Lipizzaner stallions is one of my favorites!


    Comment by asabagna | Tuesday, July 29, 2008 | Reply

  8. Thanks for the feedback asabagna,

    I have to say Crimson Tide is one of my all time favorites. I could watch that movie over and over again and see something new with each viewing. Good movies do that to me.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, July 29, 2008 | Reply

  9. BPM, I like the analogies you drew here, but I think you give Barack Obama far too much credit. You talk about the unpredictability of what he will be as POTUS, and you give the benefit of doubt to him. Those things are good approaches when there is NO record of the candidate’s views, supporters, funding or votes.

    With Mr Obama we have a pretty thick record of his likely positions.

    His advisory team are basically Bush/Cheney with a “realist” spin — same goals, same tactics, different presentation.

    His funding sources are basically Bush/Cheney — nearly identical to McCain’s sources. This is because the same Wall Street, regulated industries and wealthy individuals are interested in maintaining their throttling grip on the American Fed Govt.

    His voting has been to support Bush/Cheney since he took his seat in the Senate in 2006.

    How can one examine these three areas where the evidence exists, and still think Obama will do an about-face and become Prince of Progressive Politics as POTUS? What POTUS in American history has been able to turn his back completely on the people who got him into the White House? Can anyone identify such a POTUS for me? If we look at the recent past, we see the record of Bill Clinton — campaigned as a man of the people, and behaved as a man of the wealthy. Is Obama any different? Not likely. Obama has served the interests of the powerful since he finished law school.

    I realize that criticizing Obama harshly is unpalatable to those who find McCain an abomination — the criticism of Obama leaves such people wondering, “well then, what is my choice?”

    The choice is simple:

    Do not vote.


    Vote for someone who actually would work for change.

    If one intends to vote, I suggest the better use of one’s vote is to cast a ballot for Cynthia McKinney, Ralph Nader, or any other “third party” candidate who is obviously not owned lock-stock-and-barrel by the wealthiest Americans.

    Comment by micah pyre | Tuesday, July 29, 2008 | Reply

  10. Thanks for the feedback micah pyre,

    But trust me the analogy is in no way meant to be an accurate portrayal of either candidate or an endorsement. It is a compliment to John McCain to compare him to Captain Frank Ramsey. The same holds true when Barack Obama is compared to Lieutenant Commander Ron Hunter. I just thought it was interesting that, in some respects, the conflict on the Alabama appears to parallel some of the issues in this political campaign.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, July 29, 2008 | Reply

  11. Great post and the analogies were spot on. Did anyone ever find out if they (Lipizzaners) were really from Spain or Portugal. Anyhow, I can’t stand the sight of McCain. And Obama isn’t that high on my list either, but at least I can look at him. I find that the labels of arrogant, presumptuous and all the rest are ridiculous. Because if you look at the candidates they are all presumptuous and arrogant. I mean you would have to be just to run for POTUS. Most people aren’t that confident to think that they could somehow run an entire country.


    Comment by theblacksentinel | Tuesday, July 29, 2008 | Reply

  12. Thanks for the feedback theblacksentinel,

    I believe the X-O was saying that the horses were from Spain while the captain was claiming that they were from Portugal. At the end of the movie, after the hearings on the Alabama, the captain told the X-O that he was correct about the horses.

    The whole argument that Mr. Obama is presumptuous is a rather stupid one. Everyone who runs for president says that they are going to be the next POTUS. To say otherwise is to lack confidence. It is just more evidence of people thinking that another uppity Negro doesn’t know his place.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, July 29, 2008 | Reply

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