The Caine Mutiny Leadership and the Presidency

Posted: October 15, 2007 in Politics

I do not remember the thought processes that brought me back to a day in boot camp when I saw two famous actors approaching the base theater: James Cagney and another actor whose face is in my mind; but I can not remember his name. I asked somebody what was going on and was told it was a live production of The Caine Mutiny. Many years later I wondered why that particular play would be performed on a Navy Base. I thought it just might have been considered an important drama in the Navy. Just recently I had thoughts of how the defender dressed down the officers in the movie. He chastised them for letting the captain lose his bearings and generate the circumstances that led to the officers having to take control of the ship.

How this relates to the modern presidency is in the way congress has let many presidents down by not exercising their oversight powers to aid the president in his duties. Because the constitution has made the three branches of our federal government equal, considering the idea that every privilege brings with it a responsibility, the responsibility that lies with the congress is to ensure the executive has the administrative tools to do its job. Its oversight duties would bring with it the imperative to constantly calibrate the tools to the evolving demands of the subtleties inherent in an administrative maze of complexities.

There is a metaphor that has been applied to the nation that is so time-honored it has become almost dead: ship of state. If that phrase has meaning the captain of that ship must provide the leadership with the aid of his officers to steer it on a safe course. If the officers and captain are competent the ship will not falter. The relationship between the captain and his staff invites an alteration to the metaphor to accommodate the equal nature of the captain and his staff’s duties in the case of the ship of state that is our nation.

Inasmuch that this is an effort to encourage a departure on a journey of discovery I offer it as a thought to propel all interested parties to embark and add to the body of knowledge that enables smooth sailing for this ship of state.


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