Col. Nathan R. Jessup and A Few Good Men: a Republican metaphor

We have seen the meltdown and await the denouement.

by djerrid

In the climax of A Few Good Men, Jack Nicholson’s character – Col. Nathan R. Jessup – was calm and cool on the witness stand while Tom Cruise’s Lt. Daniel Kaffee tried to needle him into showing his true colors. Finally, after being caught in a lie, Jessup yells those famous lines: “You can’t handle the truth!…Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You?”

Which brings us to Donald Trump, standing at his lectern enduring relentless provocation at the hands of Hillary Clinton. He can’t help snapping as he is humiliated and his ego threatened. This leads to his downfall, with his only excuse being that we need walls and guns and men to protect this country. And that Hillary isn’t “man” enough to do it.

Nice metaphor, but it doesn’t end there. The denouement reveals the moral of the story. Who was complicit, and how were they held accountable?

Let’s get back to the movie. Two marines are accused of beating up a fellow marine, resulting in his death. One put loyalty above honor and the other was gullible and not especially bright. Let’s call the former “The Republican Establishment and Ideology” and the latter “The Republican Base.” And let’s say the deceased victim is “Moderate Conservatism.” In the movie, the “Moderate” marine disrespected the chain of command in an attempt to get transferred elsewhere. In other words, he didn’t toe the line. He tried to escape and got mortally punished for not falling in with the rest.

This is where Colonel Jessup – aka Donald – comes in. They and their alt-right allies have, as a result of the formal power that attends winning the nomination, been able to bully the rest of the party into doing their bidding. And sadly the rest of the party put the remaining moderates to the sword.

The real story of A Few Good Men isn’t found in the spectacular meltdown by Jessup, but in the scene which directly follows. The two marines who were “just following orders” were found guilty, as well. Although they were cleared of murder, they were convicted of “conduct unbecoming of a US Marine” and dishonorably discharged. The “Establishment” marine accepts the verdict and his fate while the ‘Base’ is bewildered and doesn’t understand what they did wrong.

We have now seen Trump’s spectacular meltdown and we’re awaiting the final scene. Is it possible that the Establishment will graciously take the blame and admit to their role in the fratricide of their better moderate half once the final vote is tallied? Or will they be bewildered at the outcome and wonder how they could ever be complicit?