Trump, and a strange guy named Queeg

& This Trump fella’s got me thinking about Captain Queeg.

He was the guy who prowled the decks and passageways of the Navy’s WWII minesweeper — the U.S.S. Caine — strangely rolling little steel balls in his right hand.

Queeg might have looked like Humphrey Bogart, who played him in the movie — I can’t remember how Herman Wouk described him when he wrote the classic, The Caine Mutiny.  Today I’m picturing Queeg as a rather weighty fellow, with slightly slumping shoulders, a bullish demeanor, a reedy voice and orangish hair. (Unlike the current visage continually stalking our tv screens, Queeg’s hair was close cropped – he was, after all, a spit-and-polish officer of the United States Navy.)

I’m thinking about Queeg because he was given a job to captain a ship, a job way above his ability to steer a course in waters way too deep for his sensibilities.

  • He’d never handled a ship like the Caine.
  • He started making mistakes, refused to admit his failings, required others to take blame.
  • He started browbeating those for trying to do their jobs.
  • He became strangely obsessed with matters of miniscule importance, such as a missing quart of strawberries which prompted his order for a futile investigation to find an imaginary culprit.
  • He wallowed in paranoia, obsessively clacking the little balls in his hand.
“Captain Queeg’s steel balls are the most prominent symbol in the novel. Whenever Queeg becomes frustrated or unsure of himself, he reaches for the balls, which he rolls incessantly in his hand. Since Queeg strives for perfection and control, but rarely achieves it, the balls can be seen as a symbol of his neutered masculinity. …[O]ne of the Navy psychiatrists suggests that the balls could be “an expression of rage and hostility toward the world.” (From:

Much of that behavior reminds me of Captain Trump, and what he’s done so far. I’m increasingly fearful that our President may follow in Queeg’s fictional footsteps.

  • In the heat of battle, he turned his ship’s tail and ran, leaving a yellow dye in the water to mark the place he should have been and prompting his nickname: Old Yellowstain.
  • Finally he was locked in his cabin, relieved of duty by a crew following the dictates of a Navy regulation:
most unusual and extraordinary circumstances may arise in which the relief from duty of a commanding officer by a subordinate becomes necessary… for…clearly obvious reasons…and must admit of the single conclusion that the retention of command by such commanding officer will seriously and irretrievably prejudice the public interests.

Months later, the executive officer of the Caine was tried for mutinous action. The court said no, there was no Caine Mutiny. The action had been necessary.

Are we headed for that moment? I don’t know if Captain Trump rolls steel balls, but it’s becoming evident that he’s lost his marbles. Need I give examples? Just tune into your nearest tv set, any hour, any day. You’ll see today’s version of Lt. Cmdr. Philip Francis Queeg, in full color.

Maybe we should all help him out. Send a couple of marbles — steelies, maybe — to the White House. He can play with them when he’s locked in his room.

& Wondering if others also might be thinking of old Captain Queeg these days, and what Herman Wouk — now 101 years old — is thinking of Captain Trump, I’m outta here.

Captain Queeg: Ahh, but the strawberries that’s… that’s where I had them. They laughed at me and made jokes but I proved beyond the shadow of a doubt and with… geometric logic… that a duplicate key to the wardroom icebox DID exist, and I’d have produced that key if they hadn’t of pulled the Caine out of action. I, I, I know now they were only trying to protect some fellow officers…

Captain Trump: We’re going to launch an investigation to find out [about three to five million illegal votes]. …and I will say this, of those votes cast, none of them come to me, none of them come to me. They would all be for the other side. None of them come to me. But when you look at the people that are registered, dead, illegal, and two states, in some cases, maybe three states. We have a lot to look into.



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