A bit later, still somewhat shaken up, one victim asks Captain Kirk how he handled getting his ship blown out from under him. Kirk didn't. He rigged the simulator to make it winnable. In the movie as it stands, this is a throwaway. In the hands of better writers, it might have been the key to Kirk's character. Kirk's wild, impulsive streak and bursts of temper actually make sense as the actions of a man who is trying to hide from his own limitations -- from knowing that there are some things you just can't win. Then again, in the hands of better writers, Kirk's impulsiveness, and his continual flouting of rules up to and including the supposed "Prime Directive" of noninterference, might have had consequences.
In American politics, there's been a traditional test for politicians contemplating military actions -- the "Dover test", for Dover Air Force base, where the coffins of dead soldiers are returned to American soil. The test is simple: will voters confronted with the sight of American dead believe that they did not die in vain?
And we all know by now how Dubya is dealing with this test: by rigging it, trying to hide photos of American coffins. To the point that American Tom Watson, looking at current events in Italy, can say:
- The most striking image in the tragic
death of Italian security agent Nicola Calipari, killed by
U.S. troops on the road to the airport with freed hostage/journalist
Giuliana Sgrena, is simple and striking: national mourning. Americans
avoid it. Our leaders avoid it. Our trained seal national media avoids
it. Have you paused to watch a national prayer service for our dead in
Iraq and Afghanistan over the past two bloody years? No, because it
hasn't happened. Do you recall that national day of mourning for the
1,500 killed in the Iraq incursion? No, because President Bush has
never named one. Yeah, we have local stories about "our
heroes" killed in Fallujah, Baghdad, and Mosul - local funerals,
local ceremonies of grief, local newspaper stories about the high
school athlete or the volunteer fireman who went to war and never came
home. Nothing national. Nothing American. ...
Why don't we mourn as a nation? The reason is simple and shocking and damning: because our leaders don't care.
He describes what we and our leaders do. Historically, it's not what we have done -- that's what the Dover test is about. But Dubya's trying to rig the test. And the test is there for a reason.
Maybe Dubya has Star Trek's writers to protect him -- and us. Would you like to bet your country on it?