Rutherford H. Platt: Trump wiretap claim recalls ‘Caine Mutiny’

Sunday, March 19, 2017
Trump wiretap claim recalls ‘Caine Mutiny’

President Trump’s delusional claim that President Obama had his phone tapped at Trump Tower recalls the episode in Herman Wouk’s novel and film “The Caine Mutiny” when Captain Queeg charges that someone is stealing strawberries from the officers’ pantry.

To find the alleged duplicate pantry key, Queeg orders the entire ship to be searched and everyone’s keys to be turned in for inspection. He refuses to accept the explanation that the missing strawberries were eaten by the pantry stewards.

Later, the ship’s officers remove him from command to save the vessel during a typhoon. When they face a court-martial for mutiny, the strawberry incident is related as evidence of Queeg’s shaky hold on reality. Humphrey Bogart as Queeg famously disintegrates in front of the entire courtroom, ranting that his officers “are against me” and rolling steel balls in his hands. The mutineers are acquitted.

The parallel with Trump however breaks down because Queeg himself was not under investigation when the strawberry incident occurred — and he was not president of the United States seeking to divert attention from his Russian connections.

Rutherford H. Platt