We’ve all seen enough by now to know that President Trump has an unhealthy fixation on the movie “Patton”. There’s plenty of articles by right wing people comparing Trump to Patton favorably and some of the more religious among them are buying in to Patton’s own belief in re-incarnation and, of course, imagining that it’s Trump. Trump himself seems to embrace Patton. He certainly mentions him regularly.
All I can say about the re-incarnation thing is- Patton saw himself only re-incarnated as a soldier and would have stayed in Vietnam every moment he could. He didn’t have to serve in the military, he was dyslexic, but he overcame it just so he could fight. So lets just forget about Trump being Patton reincarnated. Its preposterous.
The thing is Trump has a dangerous infatuation that will shape our futures. He is , in fact, president.
In Trump’s personal style dealing with the media and at his rallies we’ve seen him channel the angry, eccentric World War II generals profane and detailed threats, put downs and boasting as some of the main aspects of his public persona.
The big problems with this are that Donald Trump is not like George Patton at all and that the movie glosses over certain flaws while making others appear as virtues.
Even worse, certain coincidences I believe Trump regards as similarities between himself and Patton as portrayed in the movie are now re-enforcing his delusional belief that he is very much like George Patton. Both are meltdown prone and scream at staff and abuse subordinates, both talk their way into huge avoidable problems. But thats as far as the real similarities really go. These men, and the staff’s they yelled at, couldn’t be more different.
Trump’s surrounded by Yes Men and traitors who can’t event get a security clearance. Patton’s guys were crack combat officers. So Trump’s never getting back competent answers or a person with enough integrity to stand up against a bad idea. Patton was rooted in reality far more than Trump and if his fuel guy told him there was no fuel he’d scream a little, but he didn’t crucify the guy. Or scapegoat them. He understood there was simply no fuel. That’s a major difference.
This is a hard break with Trump’s uncontested bile and anger when he is actually told things he doesnt want to hear. Trump lives in his own reality, Patton was merely a romantic. There’s also the fact Trump would simply try to steal or blackmail someone into giving him what he wants. This wasn’t an option for Patton, who was more honorable than that anyway.
Of necessity, Patton’s guys were colonels and West Point grads who could absorb a military tantrum. Patton wasn’t spared bad news. SO there’s another major difference.
Another thing we all know about the president is he is a grandiose liar. He’s racked up several thousand outright falsehoods in just over a year in office and the tally keeps growing. In fact if you look at the numbers he’s lying more often than ever now. As far as Patton goes, Trump’s lying to himself. We already know Trump fancies himself smarter than a general, he told us so himself. It needs to be noted that Patton was not known to be a liar.
Here’s how a man mistakes a dramatic movie for reality; Trump is very simply ignorant of History and has very little actual knowledge about the actual Patton. In fact the only piece of information I’m absolutely sure Trump is aware of would be the Conspiracy Theories regarding Patton’s death (not in the movie). So to him this movie is 100% accurate and real. We know he never bothered reading up on it, come on!
Fantastic scenes where the salty general jumps out a window and cuts loose with his personal pistols against a couple of german bombers wrecking up his base are pure Hollywood but I’m sure this hasn’t occurred to Trump. He probably thinks Patton was an action hero AND a commanding officer.
The biggest thing my hypothesis has going for it is if you momentarily embrace it, it explains pretty much everything and holds up to scrutiny from numerous angles. Of course its not perfect, but indulge me and then draw your own conclusion— BECAUSE COMMENTS ARE ENABLED!! Please weigh in if you feel so inclined!
Patton- The Embellished Bio-Pic
Patton was pure Oscar Gold seldom paralleled. Winner of Academy Awards for Best Actor (George C Scott) Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay (Francis Ford Coppola) and Best Original Score (Jerry Goldsmith of Star Trek fame!).
The movie ‘Patton’ is a masterpiece of film making that starts with a very strong Francis Ford Coppola screenplay advised by none other than Patton contemporary and equal- General Omar Bradley himself. An inspired George C Scott gave a brilliant, authentic and career defining performance then blew off accepting his Best Actor Oscar to go to a hockey game, how cool is that? Throw in one of the best movie scores outside Star Wars to move it along from the great Jerry Goldsmith of Star Trek fame. The director was Franklin J Shaffner , fresh off “Planet of the Apes” success.
Why This Movie Is A Dangerous Influence on Trump
Trump’s fascination with Patton is a problem for a bunch of reasons. For one thing George Patton, despite his success, is a TERRIBLE role model for a politician or president. Brash and outspoken, his role in the war was minimized because of his personal antics.
While the movie makes much of this, the scenes where Patton goes on tirades around his staff and peers over the consequences of so many ill considered actions (sound familiar?) are captivating. George C Scott plays him as a figure who NEEDS to create obstacles for himself by self sabotaging because fate always turns the tables and suddenly the sabotage ends up benefiting him. Were Patton to have never stirred the pot he wouldn’t have had such great luck. Trump, as we have seen, loves to self sabotage. This could be part of why.
The obvious problem is Francis Ford Coppola is NOT writing reality and we may all be let down when fate DOESN’T turn the tables and everyone ends up screwed because of one of Trump’s crazy actions or tweets,etc. The poorly considered Korea Summit would be an example of self sabotage and then waiting for miracle. In reality the South Koreans really want some kind of peace talks so the idea keeps lurching forward while Trump vacillates.
The real Patton was apparently had no political ambitions, which makes sense since despite a rough charm he had no diplomatic skill or real personal charisma. He needed the shock and awe of non stop profanity to drive home a point to fighting men in time of war though. The moment he spoke to anyone else he was always and only ever inappropriate. While this was (barely) forgivable for a mid 20th century war time general, it’s just awful for a 21st century president! Yet we have only seen Trump speak for longer and longer making one dangerous uninformed statement after the next while salting in hardcore racism with the boasting, threats and pure bullshit.
Patton was so awful a human being technical adviser General Omar Bradley quit the movie when he saw the script portrayed him and Patton as close friends. Bradley, its should be noted, was famously a nice guy. This means Patton was probably despicable, so he has that in common with Trump. Bradley seems to have regarded him as exactly the re-incarnated Dark Ages Warlord Patton fancied himself to be in his poetry. Being a horrible dick may be the only thing Trump and Patton truly have in common, but Patton of course had certain redeeming traits.
In his own time Patton was seen as an eccentric throwback. Basically he was little too crazy and liked war a little too much. He was the kind of soldier who needed to be sealed in case marked “Only Open in Case of War”. He chaffed at his bosses and generally was a pain in their asses.
Despite fighting the nazis like a boss, he seemed to go soft on them after the war. Unlike Trump he hated the Russians, but he probably would have conspired with them just to get World War 3, which he gets sacked for advocating for (along with the soft on ex-nazi’s thing). When Patton dies he was in a heap of trouble and had no command again.
The root of Trump’s many misconceptions is due to viewing the movie in a very simple manner. Its unlikely Trump ever took a single film class. The fact is Film Appreciation 101 might save the planet were Trump forced to take the course. If he had he would have realized the Ironic Duality of the plot.
Simply put the movie is all about introducing the open question of “Is Patton all that is Great and Gallant in the Military? Or is he all that is Wrong and Perverse about War and War Making?” The movie seems to suggest he is both at the same time.
The characters from the movie line up in Trump World roughly like this- Trump of course is Patton. Egotistical British General Montgomery , equally delusional and insane to only a slightly lesser degree, is ‘Crooked Hillary’. Patton’s very first aide in the movie who dies is BOTH original campaign managers AND Chris Christie (aside from the actual sorrow Patton felt,Trump we know is a stranger to empathy). Cod, his final aide is Kellyanne Conway and racist Steve Bannon. Omar Bradley and the US military are Paul Ryan and the Republicans. The German Military is Mueller and the FBI.
The movie opens with a ‘Patton Rally’. With a huge flag behind him he lays down tough, gruff and profanity laced violent rhetoric in clear terms. Everything is black and white, which is just fine because they’re preparing for war. It’s really freaky when you see the scene superimposed on a 21st century political rally.
The movie provides a composite of Patton’s actual speeches delivered brilliantly, using George Scott’s incredible speaking voice to draw us in as he gives it to his troops in a loud and dirty fashion. It’s very much a political looking arena and the first of many Academy Award Moments defying the viewer to look away.
When Patton begins to speak he’s commanding and profane. He tells his men their better than anyone their opponents, who are subhuman creeps. He boasts about their training and weapons and says they’re destined to win. He speaks of violence and glory. Again, perfect for a wartime general, TERRIBLE for a president, but of course its not very different from what Trump says at his rallys.
Trump holds out immigrants and muslims as an enemy and dehumanizes them almost s much as Patton dehumanized the Nazis extolling his troops to kill. Unlike Patton, there’s no hope. Patton is sure their going to win and win big. Maybe it wont be easy or fun, but it’s going to happen. Trump follows one false gloomy statement with another.
There are some traits both the Man in the Movie and Trump share. Then there’s a lot of fluke-ish coincidences where they seem to resemble each other but dont hold up.
One similarity between Trump and Movie Patton would be the portrayal of Patton as very much Bipolar, which is one of the dominant parts of Trump’s Borderline Personality Disorder. So what I’m saying is both were crazy. Patton, and Trump, also had certain traits of sociopaths and worse.
Patton was probably ‘Manic Depressive’ in terms of that time. Both were spotty students at prestigious schools (though Patton was afflicted with dyslexia, an actual learning disability he overcame, showing some discipline and personal character). Both are only functional when attacking. Both are insulated from their mistakes by great personal wealth. The bottom line is; “Both were crazy and self destructive”
Anti-Patton Cartoon from “Patton” (1970)
Both loved media coverage of and yet bristled at the scrutiny that invites. Both earned the distinction of “Suspected Huge Fan of the Nazis” from the media in their time.
Neither one feels that it’s fair to have their own words used against them, no matter how hypocritical.
Near the end of the movie Patton’s being questioned by the press as to why he won’t remove former Nazi’s from key positions. He answers with his own “Very Fine People” gaff- analogizing the nazis to the Republican and Democratic Parties in the United States. It was such a stupid thing to say you don’t actually feel that bad he let himself get set up. In fact it seemed like he knew they were setting him up and went with a defiant response out of pure bile. It destroys his post War career.
Neither guy can simply shut up for any length of time. While Trump uses tweets Patton would simply act in an outrageous manner (sound familiar?) til the press couldn’t look away.
Both seem to flirt with the idea of War for War’s sake (the Patton character admits this repeatedly). The recent whimsical attitude in meeting with North Korea in different capacities without any preparation fits well with the Patton in the movie, but it sure isn’t reflective of the real life guy.
“Fire and fury,” is a total Patton line. It’s not from the movie, but it would fit. Threatening people is one of Trump’s favorite things. Patton boasted all the time too. The difference of course is it’s APPROPRIATE for general to be boastful and threatening.
And Appropriateness is an area where Trump is really in need of improvement. Whacked out tweets, not putting his hand on his heart during the National Anthem, disparaging numerous Gold Star Families and worse are all in a days work for the offender in chief. Bolstered by his delusion he’s Patton or Patton-like at least, Trump is likely to continue and increase the boasts and threats.
A particularly dangerous sequence in the movie revolves around the German Siege of Bastogne. Loaded up with fuel and ammo and ready to kick the Nazi’s asses the weather intercedes and slows sops his relief attempt.
Angry and scream-y, Patton decides its time for some help from God and a little theater to motivate the troops. He summons the Division Chaplain and makes and demands a prayer good enough for god to intercede and stop the storm. The chaplain points out hes asking him to pray for a battle and therefore death on massive scale and it’s sort of messed up. Patton has no problem with the hypocrisy. Then he goes on a rant worthy of a Spartan king or a particularly extreme Roman general about how they’re going to be sustaining the attack no matter what. Patton admits to his aide he’s sort of acting. Its another Academy Award moment in the film.
A truly inspirational prayer, for those who care about such things, was written. The weather cleared fairly quickly thereafter and the Patton’s army set off on a historic campaign.
Of course what we all know today about Patton’s Weather Prayer is that a warm front moved in and the snow simply stopped. That doesn’t blunt the forceful nature of the scene where Patton excoriates a regimental chaplain, telling him to write a prayer “good enough” for God to bother listening. Its very much like Trump’s contempt for the Pope and religion in general. The “Two Corinthians” Fiasco shows Trump has no religious knowledge or convictions but has no problem with rank hypocrisy and is therefore a bit less moral than Patton.
This sequence of the movie is meant to show Patton’s Hubris and psychopathy in pursuit of battle and it’s a very dangerous thing to take it literally as surely Trump does. We can blame the Evangelical communities blind loyalty and excuse make-ing for Trump for this delusion gaining strength.
Another thing Trump and ‘Movie Patton’ have in common would be a total lack of understanding of whats called “Psychological Warfare”. In the film Patton is apparently baffled as to the importance of his mission leading up to D-Day- to be a weapon of mass distraction . Patton’s use as a decoy convinced Hitler to disregard an Actual Invasion and hold off forces that may well have turned the tide of the War itself , to await a Fictional Invasion that was never going to happen. It was key to pulling of the Allied Invasion of France.
Now consider Trump calling the Generals and the former president stupid repeatedly for broadcasting some details of their plan to destroy ISIS. He simply doesn’t understand the idea that you can cloud your opponents judgement to the point you can predict or even control his actions.
It’s too subtle for the movie character or Trump to grasp.
Both Trump and Patton have a deep disdain of giving out any government healthcare. Patton orders his hospital units not to admit Combat Fatigue (PTSD), which he considers cowardice.
This was so insane even to 1940’s medical personnel they simply ignore him. That of course boomerangs on Patton in his version of a “Hot Mic on the Bus” moment. Of course I am talking of the scene where Patton slaps a ‘cowardly’ soldier in a Field Hospital, disgusting everyone and showing his troops how little he cares about them despite the bravado.
In the heat of battle Patton visits a field hospital. At first he’s compassionate and deeply moved. Then he tirns hateful and insane. The General loses control of himself publicly and betrays his own bi-polar nature and complete lack of empathy during a brutal, sort of violent, screaming meltdown culminating with him repeatedly slapping a ‘cowardly’ soldier.
Lack of sleep and stress are surely in the mix when the real Patton freaked out like a true bi-polar. The sequence shows the dark side of Patton’s insanity. I dont think Trump will see it that way. His cruel approach to medicare and the Obamacare reforms shows he has no compassion, something the cinematic Patton develops. Trump surely wont (because Francis Ford Coppola is not writing reality).
Real life Patton slapped more than one soldier more than one time til they actually had to discipline him and remove him from command. It was just like the self inflicted wound we see Trump give himself all the time. Unlike Patton, he just never gets a humbling comeuppance where he returns slightly improved from time to time. Trump just keep making the same mistakes over and over.
Patton is benched and used as a decoy until after the D-Day Invasion, the battle he had waited all his life to fight in. He faces it like a pitcher caught doctoring a baseball and forced to miss a playoff start. In other words, with only a minimal thought of anyone else. Again Patton shows his view of war and command to be from the Dark Ages or perhaps early Renaissance at its most compassionate.
In his finest moments of triumph after receiving a new army to command, when prosecuting the war Patton is shown as petty and dismissive of his soldiers well-being and simply thinks of his Army as a whole. To Patton, when people get killed it’s like the Army itself is just trimming it’s fingernails. In other words; it’s a natural ongoing function of war. With Trump we can see the chaos in his personal staff and cabinet, burning people like Michael Cohen as needed.
Just as important as winning were the laurels and press adulation that came with it. When holding the spotlight Patton is grandiose in his actions while his words are always petty. Demonizing and denigrating his personal rivals, boasting of his the strength of his army. Its much like Trump with the exception of the part it’s actually appropriate for a general to have that attitude in time of war. Trump appropriating the George C Scott version of Patton in a political mode ISN’T appropriate at all, it worked well enough to get him ‘elected’ (we think). A crass and abusive screed of insults and violent rhetoric are the hallmark of every Trump Rally ever
Patton and Trump have contempt for the abilities (and probably even the racial abstraction) of the Russians, despite Trump’s open admiration for Putin. Patton moves himself firmly onto the hot seat in the early postwar moments by repeatedly insulting people, specifically members of the Russian military, the US President and that which would become NATO. Sound familiar ?
The movie closes with the disgraced Patton reflecting in how the Romans would celebrate a victory with a triumphant parade through Rome itself and a warning that all Glory is Fleeting. Cadet Bone Spurs insistence on a Bigly Military Parade is right in line with this.
Disturbing Conclusions and Thoughts-
We already have had our national policy shaped by this movie. As the documentary “All The President’s Movies” tells us, Nixon ordered major bombing offenses against Vietnam twice after watching the movie. And we all know that Trump loves Nixon so if he finds out that watch out!
It’s my theory that Trump see’s the story of Patton as that of an American who couldn’t lose cause he was an American and that he was an exceptional person who prospered BECAUSE he broke all rules and civility rather than IN SPITE OF THIS. I believe he sees his kooky Cabinet of Billionaire Ass kissers as equivalent to Patton’s highly trained and battle proven staff officers. This dangerous delusion was how Trump found a way to cast crazy ex-General Flynn in the role of Omar Bradley. Comparing Flynn to Bradley is so far from the truth it would be laughable of it weren’t absolute reality.
Based on his overtly displayed misunderstanding of the movie Trump shows he is dangerously militarily primitive and most comfortable with methods and ideas more commonly associated with the Nazi Germans than 20th century Americans.
Military deaths are way up under Trump I truly think he’s relaxed rules of engagement and demanded more missions in general. If you doubt it just consider the Green Berets lost in Niger. We still can’t get a reason that makes sense about why they were even on that doomed mission.
Patton is a terrible role model for even most soldiers as he was always succeeding at he expense of higher all around casualties. He declined peaceful solutions whenever possible. He was always one mistake from disaster but circumstance connived him a series of unlikely wins. As a role model for a president Patton is a disaster.
Like Trump, Patton’s glory should never eclipse the incompetence of his enemies. It requires some historical perspective to understand. Patton was set loose in western Europe with a veteran army and ample supplies. Even more decisive the Germans are mandated by Hitler ONLY to plan against Patton in an area where they expect the Invasion that never comes in Calais. Rather than ever accepting that they must fight Patton they become intimidated and willfully ignorant of the reality due to Hitler’s rapid mental decline from seriously insane to non functional maniac between about 1942 and early 1944. Patton directly benefits. Nothing analogous this is in play for Trump, His current foe, Mueller, is self-created but much more competent than Trump and no amount of freaking out is going to save Trump from that
Looking back at the 2016 campaign think of this as being roughly the same as Hillary not going to states she considered ‘safe’, like the vaunted Democratic “Blue Wall” of reliably Democratic states , each of which she then lost by less than an under-attended baseball game worth of people. We know Trump appreciates this misstep because its one of his favorite riffs to go on from the now “Trump 2020” rallies that are a veritable torchlight parade for the guy. “Kill Them All! Build That Wall!” however, is a lot less civilized than the behavior we see from people about to go to an actual war. Its belicose shit talking that serves just to help these cultists pay homage top their hero and are probably damaging the fabric of America.
Unlike Trump, Patton didn’t have a staff of soothsayers and guru’s off Fox News, Patton’s guys were highly competent top notch merit promoted staff officers with great expertise. Trumps rag tag group of advisers is anything BUT top notch or Highly Competent. They also have more turnover than Patton, which is amazing.
Another unavoidable conclusion from the movie is that current 21st century Americans are actually LESS civilized than Americans of the mid 20th century, 75 years ago, or at the very least the Americans of 1970 when the film is made. Being at war since 9-11 surely is somewhat to blame for this. This suggests that assertions about a cult of ignorance and a desire to literally turn back the clock to early post world war 2, before the integration of the military, by the Trumpists are very much real and accurate.
The movie ends before the freakish and controversial death of Patton in a car accident. The truth is the driver probably just messed up and plain old crashed. Patton lingered for a few days and was buried with his troops. Its long been imagined and even said that the General was killed by the CIA’s predecessor the OSS. This is sonething I’m sure Trump believes Patton was assassinated. I mean, there’s the whole issue where he’s afraid someone is going to poison him to back it up.