Right movie, wrong lesson

RIGHT MOVIE, WRONG LESSON…. Over the years, the debate over U.S. interrogation policies has featured quite a few references to fictional works, most commonly with the right referencing Jack Bauer and “24.” Yesterday, we heard a twist, with the introduction of Col. Jessup and “A Few Good Men.”

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough sees a parallel, with President Obama as Kaffee, and Dick Cheney as Jessup. Ryan Powers reported on Scarborough’s on-air comments, in which the former Republican lawmaker described the two national-security speeches from Thursday:

“This scene yesterday…I’m serious here, this comes straight out of ‘A Few Good Men.’ The reason why the closing scene with Jack Nicholson on the stand worked so well, is, of course, we were all rooting for the young attractive Tom Cruise, just like more Americans are probably rooting for President Obama. But at the same time, what was said on that stand by Nicholson…I was struck by that contrast.”

The comparison is not, on its face, absurd. If you’ve seen the movie, you know that Jessup believed the ends justified the means, and that a security-at-all-costs attitude was used to rationalize illegal conduct. It’s a belief that sounds rather familiar.

But Scarborough seems to have forgotten the ending. Jessup lied under oath, orchestrated a conspiracy to cover up his crimes, ordered the torture (and accidental death) of a United States Marine, and was eventually arrested to face criminal charges. In other words, the audience wasn’t just “rooting for the young attractive Tom Cruise”; the audience was supposed to realize that Col. Jessup was the villain in this story.

Indeed, it worries me a bit that Scarborough would watch “A Few Good Men” and think, “You know, maybe Kaffee really did ‘weaken a country’ with his efforts.”

It’s like watching “Bob Roberts” and thinking you’d like to vote for the protagonist.