The indecisiveness of President “Jellyfish” Logan in dealing first with the interrogation of Pardo and then with the aftermath of his blunder in trying to arrest Jack for personal reasons gives us a glimpse into why Presidential leadership in a national crisis is so profoundly important. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said “No change of circumstances can repair a defect of character.” The elevation of Logan to the Presidency has, in the crucible of crisis, revealed a petty, equivocal, sniveling wimp of a man whose predilection for blaming others for his own blunders as well as his whining, self pitying rant about “not deserving to be President” proves him unworthy of high office.
And this puts the United States in quite a pickle, doesn’t it? When the President freezes as Logan did, the consequences can be unthinkable. During the Cuban missile crisis, Kennedy very deservedly got high marks for managing the crisis expertly. He went by the dictum that “In a crisis, if something needs to be done immediately, it’s probably too late to make a difference.” By first keeping the crisis a secret and then carefully managing information given to the public, he was able to direct his cabinet and the national security apparatus toward the dual goals of avoiding war and getting the missiles out of Cuba. And while his secret deal (not revealed until a couple of years ago) to trade our missiles in Turkey for the Cuban weapons has taken some of the luster off JFK’s accomplishment, it was nevertheless a classic example of good crisis management.
This exchange reveals the barely concealed contempt Novik feels toward his cowardly boss:
NOVIK: CTU is waiting for us to call them back with a directive. What do you want to do, (long pause. Said with disgust) Mr. President?
LOGAN: I have no idea. And that’s the problem isn’t it?
Indeed. A real life example of Presidential hesitation and indecision can be found in President Clinton’s surreal screw up in not killing Osama bin Laden when we had him dead to rights.
The story is told in Buzz Patterson’s eye opening book “Dereliction of Duty.” Patterson carried the nuclear football for nearly two years and also functioned as one of the President’s military aides at that time. He was in a unique position to judge not only the character but the performance of the man in a crisis.
The story of Clinton losing the pocket code book containing nuclear strike options would be unbelievable if not confirmed by a secret service agent. The book is worth reading just to understand that one episode of Clinton’s assault on the military. But there was more; how he and his refugees from the 1970’s aides made military personnel wear civilian clothing because they despised the armed services and how Clinton himself denigrated Patterson’s service are other astonishing insights into how the military declined precipitously during the Clinton years. And then there was the bin Laden incident.
Clinton was playing in a celebrity golf tournament when word came from the CIA that they believed they had bin Laden in the cross hairs of an armed UAV. The drone was circling a training camp in Afghanistan and the CIA needed immediate authorization to launch the weapon to kill the perpetrator of the worst terrorist attack in American history. According to Patterson, Clinton froze. He continued his hobnobbing with celebrities, telling Patterson he would “get back to him” with an answer. When Patterson approached him again requesting that Clinton make a decision, the President angrily brushed him off. In the end, the opportunity went by the boards and bin Laden went on to bigger and more destructive things.
The point is simple; no one knows how a President will react until the crisis is upon them. A reasonable case can be made that the 9/11 attack that gut punched America also temporarily threw President Bush off his game. By the time he got back to Washington, Bush had recovered and subsequently performed spectacularly from then on. The lesson is that we must choose our Presidents carefully. Character does matter and will continue to do so as long as we’re at war with such implacable, murderous foes.
More bad news for Jack as Audrey discovers his “interrogation” of Pardo involved a little bit of arm twisting (and knuckle breaking). Audrey is shocked, just shocked do you hear that Jack would disobey the President. In Audrey’s nice cozy perch inside the beltway, these things just aren’t done. Bill Buchanan attempts to set her straight:
BILL: In this case, I’d rather ask for forgiveness than permission.
AUDREY: What kind of answer is that?
BILL: The answer is it worked. We got Marwan’s location. With all due respect Audrey this is not Washington, DC. Politics and policy do not always work on the frontlines which is where we are today.
AUDREY: Charles Logan is a politician and he’s not going to give you forgiveness. I hope this doesn’t come back to haunt you or Jack.
BILL: If what we did gets us to Marwan, we’ll live with it.
Spoken like a true warrior/bureaucrat. I like Bill immensely. He’s a stand-up guy which is what’s most important in a boss. He’ll take the heat when necessary and he cares about his staff.
When Logan finds out that Jack disobeyed his instruction not to harm Pardo, he suddenly finds some decisiveness and orders his arrest. The milquetoast is strong as hell when his own ego is involved. What a weasel!
Marwan’s crew in Iowa begins to configure the weapon’s trigger so they can fire it. To that end, they’ve enlisted one Sabeer Ardakani, an engineer with an inquisitive girlfriend. And we know what happens to inquisitive girlfriends, don’t we. Just ask Behruzz and his ex girlfriend Debbie. You remember Debbie. She’s the one poisoned by dearly departed Dina and who now lies in a shallow grave in the hills above LA.
Jack and Curtis prepare to move in on the nightclub where Marwan is hiding out. Marwan is in the process of making the tape that will be broadcast after the bomb has gone off. It’s standard terrorist boilerplate but begs the question; why make the damn thing now? Why take the chance of it falling into CTU hands and giving your enemy the chance to stop you? Why not make the damn tape after the bomb goes off?
The answer to these questions is pure ego. The ecstatic look on Marwan’s face when he’s talking about the destructive power of the bomb finally reveals this pig to be an overweening egoist with delusions of grandeur. We got a taste of this when he was holding Jack in the warehouse and bragged to Jack that American leaders wouldn’t show their faces in public again after this day. The long and short of it is that he’s a nutball, a loon, a certified egomaniac with a god complex. This makes him an extremely dangerous man.
Just in the nick of time to save Marwan, the Secret Service shows up to arrest Jack. When Jack points out that he’s in the middle of a super secret operation and that he’s penetrated the terrorists hideout and lies in a concealed position, the secret service doesn’t care. Come out now or we’re coming in, the agent says. Of course, as Agent Castle makes his way across no man’s land to try and relieve Jack so he can be arrested, Marwan’s look-out spots him and the jig is up. Marwan escapes through the sewer system and, after offing the cameraman, Jack is left with the damning tape made by Marwan. The SS guys promptly arrest him, only to release him minutes later when President Jellyfish changes his mind.
In the meantime, Mike Novik (who appears to be playing a good guy this time around…so far) suggests that President Milquetoast call in someone with experience who can advise him. That someone turns out to be ex-President and insurance pitchman Palmer. Can’t wait for that first meeting between Palmer and Logan. Five bucks gets you ten that he slaps the weasel around to try and bring him out of it.
Sabeer’s suspicious girlfriend calls CTU with disturbing info about her boyfriend. Seems there’s more information on Ardakani’s computer but it’s encrypted. Now…who can we send to the girlfriend’s house to unlock the computer’s secrets? Who has the knowledge, the expertise, and the courage to go out into the field and help save our country from these implacably hostile terrorists? Who else but the analyst you love to hate, Chloe!
“I’m not a field agent” she tells Bill and don’t we know it. But she bravely soldiers on, calling fat geek Edgar to make sure everything is being done to insure her safety (heh). She nervously tells Edgar:
CHLOE: Why did they ask me to do this? I really hate it.
FGE: When you were prepping, I asked Bill if I could go instead of you. He wouldn’t let me. He said you were the best analyst we have. He’s right.
CHLOE: I know.
I KNOW! She’s a bitch…but she;s our bitch!
Before Chloe can get started though, she’s rudely interrupted by an assassin sent to take care of Ardakani’s talkative girlfriend. After a hair raising chase, Chloe ends up with a rifle at which point she makes like Sigourney Weaver confronting the mama Alien and kills the assassin dead.
Ten bucks gets you twenty she doesn’t shed a tear about the episode.
Jack pings the cameraman. The assassin offs two CTU agents (plus a nosy neighbor). And Chloe becomes an action figure doll.
Chloe: 1 (just because she’d love the recognition).
The target city for the bomb is still unknown. I’m a little less certain this week that it’s Chicago based on the fact that the terrorists are now too far away from the Windy City to make it before sun-up. And since Marwan wanted that tape delivered to TV stations before dawn, we have to assume the attack will take place sometime before then.
How about my old stomping grounds of Des Moines? A nuke going off in Des Moines (or Peoria) would make sense (to a terrorist) in that it would prove “no one was safe.” Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to be good enough. Stay tuned.