A Presidential aide is implicated in a crime. Upon discovering this, the President has two options: 1) he can turn the aide in, take his lumps in the media, and eventually weather the storm, or 2) he can cover up the crime thus adding obstruction of justice to the legal mix and watch helplessly as the cover up is revealed piecemeal by a voracious, scandal-mongering media.
That was the decision faced by our gutless jellyfish of a President last night as Walt Cummings revealed his part in the assassination of Palmer as well as his connection to the terrorists. In real life, President Nixon found out his Attorney General had ordered the break-in at the Watergate hotel 3 days after the crime was committed. He chose to initiate a cover up that ended in his resignation. On the other hand, when Ed Meese discovered the possible law breaking of Oliver North’s crew in the Iran-Contra mess, Reagan didn’t hesitate. He immediately went to the press room and told the country about what was known. After a few rough spots (and a dip in the polls), Reagan came back strong the last year and a half of his Presidency finishing with approval ratings near 60%.
LOGAN: Walt, you’re rationalizing murder, the murder of a President. You are going to contact those people before the nerve gas leaves the country.
CUMMINGS: I don’t know where the nerve gas is. And the man I had working on the inside has gone dark, he’s unreachable. No…no. You’ll let things play out as they are. Otherwise, your administration will be implicated and your presidency destroyed.
It’s your choice, Mr. President.
Cummings had taken the mettle of this President and had found it wanting. He recognized Logan for what he was; not only a spineless, worthless, sniveling mass of quivering man-flesh but a moral coward to boot. Getting Logan to play ball was easy.
Haldeman must have felt the same way.
Meanwhile, there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth on the right as Cummings reveals his motives for helping the terrorists. Putting aside the possibility that his stated motives may be a smokescreen and there may be more at play here (HT: my lover Sue), what is wrong with the government working to secure our access to oil?
Oil is the lifeblood of industrialized civilization. Excuse me. Not just oil but cheap oil. Without a cheap, reliable supply of oil, this country’s economy would collapse. Thousands of people would die. They would freeze to death in winter. Millions could be thrown our of work. Also, crops couldn’t be harvested and transported. Processed food would not reach the stores because the independent truckers who haul 80% of our food would be ruined by spiraling costs for fuel.
The oil shocks of the 1970’s nearly destroyed our industrial base. When oil went from $6 a barrel to $30 a barrel, the resulting chaos caused thousands of companies to go bankrupt. Millions were thrown out of work in the decade of the 1970’s. And we sat there and took it because we were conditioned to think of oil as something the oil companies made a profit on not as the vital commodity that it really is. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan when President Carter initiated a grain embargo against the Soviet Union, many on the left rightly called it an immoral act to deny needed food – even to an enemy. Since 1996, we have supplied our deadly enemies, the North Koreans, with more than 2,000,000 pounds of food aid.
For the same reason that it is immoral to use food as a weapon, it is unconscionable to use oil for the same purpose. But since the left has declared it a mortal sin to make a profit, it is easy to obfuscate our absolute need for oil by raising the specter of the evil corporations who traffic in it. Oil companies have been the bogeyman of conspiratorial leftist politics for 50 years. They have defined the oil issue not as one of survival but as one of money. They have successfully twisted the debate to where oil is simply a commodity not the tether by which our civilization hangs.
I hope to God there is someone, somewhere in government who is in fact thinking about securing a cheap, reliable supply of oil for coming generations. The fact that Cummings was working outside the system (we think) is what should be stressed, not his goal of thinking about a stable supply of oil. Of course, killing an ex-President and the hostage taking at the airport not to mention working with terrorists in the first place was dead wrong. But let’s not go off half cocked on his stated reasons for doing so.
Fat Hobbit Lin makes the decision to allow Jack to get in touch with Novik and tell him about Cummings. Jack’s “plausible deniability” reason is thin but never mind that now. What’s important is that Jack is about to expose Cummings.
Before he can do that, he simply must do something about his love life. With enough nerve gas to kill the population of the United States a couple of times over loose and on its way to God knows where and with a mole sitting at arms length from the President of the United States, Jack feels compelled to explain himself to Diane.
The writers have made it pretty plain the Jack and Audrey still have powerful feelings for one another which makes one wonder why they brought Diane into the story in the first place. The look of pain on Diane’s face as Jack confesses he still loves Audrey sets up a later confrontation between the two women during which Diane lets slip the “L” word regarding Jack’s feelings for Audrey. Will Diane fight for Jack’s love? What we need here is a good old fashioned kidnapping of Diane to get Jack’s protective instincts in high gear. That’s the only way those two have a chance – Jack realizing he prefers the quiet, anonymous life as a roustabout rather than the thrill-a-minute life offered by Audrey.
Mystery Man (who I believe was called “Nate” by Cummings) sitting in his high-tech control room has intercepted Jack’s call to Novik and replayed it for Cummings. Realizing the jig is up, Cummings decides to come clean. Or does he? Mystery Man said to Cummings “You know what you have to do,” regarding Cummings being exposed. It makes one wonder if there isn’t another layer to this conspiracy that Cummings is still hiding. Stay tuned.
Agent Pierce meanwhile finds Martha hiding in the stables. She begs him to prevent her transfer to the mental institution and starts to relay her fears about Palmer’s suspicions. Before Pierce can hear her out, she’s led away – still without a word from the man who supposedly loves her, the President of the United States. It is perhaps unseemly (not to mention illegal) to wish a bullet would find Mr. Jellyfish and put an end to his pretensions. Alas, I doubt we’ll get that lucky.
Then again, the following scene where Cummings confesses his role in the day’s events only shows that shooting would be too good for him. Perhaps something a little more medieval – a boiling vat of oil or perhaps some ravenous dogs in a pit would do justice to his crimes:
LOGAN: So everything that happened today was just to kill some terrorists?
CUMMINGS: No. This is to produce a smoking gun. Proof of the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Central Asia.
LOGAN: ...This is unbelievable…
CUMMINGS: It’s necessary. It will finally give us a pretext to increase our military presence in the region, guaranteeing the flow of oil for the next generation.
LOGAN: How dare you! How dare you act without my consent! How dare you put this Administration (!), the entire country in jeopardy! (shouting) You are a traitor!
CUMMINGS: No…(shouting back) NO MR PRESIDENT I AM A PATRIOT! DOING WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE FOR THE CONTINUED SAFETY AND WELL BEING OF THIS NATION!
Seeing Logan’s confusion and hesitation, Cummings goes for the throat by making it clear who would be blamed if any of this ever came out. Jellyfish gives in and apparently starts to play ball. But his sniveling need for assurances from Cummings only makes me think that Fox should have an additional disclaimer at the top of the show. In addition to the violence warning, the network should inform viewers that “Watching portions of this show my induce extreme nausea and perhaps vomiting.”
With Logan on his side, Cummings orders the arrest of Jack and Novik. Jellyfish is in a daze. Take CTU out of the loop? What should I say? Cummings has to remind the swine that he’s the President of the United States and can do anything he wants.
Meanwhile back at CTU, Fat Hobbit Linn announces that he’s going to obey orders like a good little bureaucrat. It’s up to Bill to put some spine into the former Shire denizen who seems to lose his breath when the situation gets a little tight. Bill also points out that as a CTU director, Linn succeeds as a passable Hobbit. That may be alright for Middle Earth, but his hesitation and indecision is not only putting lives in danger but killing the flow of the show. Bill bucks Linn up and CTU stays on the case.
Back at the ranch, Jack is about to be transferred to the black hole of Calcutta never to be heard from again when he convinces Agent Pierce that he needs to see the President. Jeopardizing his career for the second time (Pierce helped Palmer regain control 2 years ago after a coup engineered by Novik), Pierce clears the way for Jack to burst in on Cummings and Jellyfish:
JACK: Mr. President my name is Jack Bauer and I’m sorry to have to confront you like this. But your Chief of Staff is withholding information that is vital to this nation’s security!
As Cummings lunges for the phone – cleverly disconnected by Agent Pierce – Jack goes to work on the fleshy parts of the body of Mr. Cummings. Jellyfish is pathetic:
LOGAN: Stop this! I…I’m the President of the United States! Get your hands off that man! Agent Pierce, do something!
PIERCE: I am Mr. President. I am upholding my oath to protect you.
Jack tires of the sport and draws his knife. Holding it up to Cummings face, Jack gives the second most powerful man in Washington a choice; talk or he will pop his eyes out of their sockets. Convinced, Cummings relents and tells Jack that the nerve gas is on a ship bound for Central Asia.
A grateful Jellyfish tries to explain to Jack that he “trusted” Cummings and that the man lied to him. Jack stands there as if wondering whether he should try the knife trick on Jellyfish to see if he’s involved too. Thinking better of it, Jack reverts to type, promising the President that he will “disappear again” after the nerve gas is found. The look on Jack’s face when Jellyfish extends his hand is priceless. Jack looks as if he was being forced to shake hands with an oily, slimy alien. Jack’s famous loyalty to the Office of the President may be sorely tested before this day is over.
CTU Tactical finds the shipping container where the nerve gas was but discovers it empty. Ivan the Terrorist has smelled out Cumming’s amateurish plot and has now moved the nerve gas to where it can do damage to “his enemies.” That’s us. And all this makes one wonder if the Mystery Man who was running Cummings didn’t envision a scenario like this all along. He may or may not be the ultimate mastermind. But its clear his agenda has not been fleshed out quite yet.
Ivan the Terrorist’s chilling call to Cummings reveals that the terrorists know Cummings was outed. And it also means that for CTU, the clock has started and the countdown has begun.
Another family friendly episode. His Majesty (named by Polipundit readers as “Jack Bauer of the Blogosphere”) is apoplectic that the body count isn’t higher. I wouldn’t worry Misha. We’ve still got 75% of the show to go.
Tonights lone fatality was Schaeffer, Cummings man on the inside, offed by Ivan the Terrorist.
Anyone notice that Cummings collar and tie was loosened when he came back in the room with the President following the raid on the container ship? He also looked pretty good for someone Jack just beat up. Usually, Jack’s victims look like Jerry Quarry did after going 10 rounds with Mohammed Ali.
Here’s a link to a site that features a “Kill Count and Torture Report.” I wonder if we’ll end up with the same number of kills for Jack at the end of the show?