FF144 - Thirteen Days

Intro by John Roderick

The Cuban missile crisis is distant enough now that it can only be read as a kind of campy fun. All those slim Harvard boys with their Brahmin accents and J. Press suits seem like relics of prehistory. So it stands to reason that we feel like their problems and their politics and the prosumer-quality of their munitions and especially their telephones, and crucially the danger that they faced were similarly just elements of some Porcelain stage play where the boys wear coconut bras and they all sang Buttercup.

I mean, Castro was such a funny furry little bear with his Groucho cigar in his coffee can hat and Khrushchev stomping around trying to kill the wabbit, standing on two dictionaries to marvel at the electric washer, how could these silly men have posed any real threat to the world? And then there's our own John Kennedy, long carved in stone on the tabloid Rushmore, an ancient Greek, a hero who guards us even now while we sleep, dreaming of a greater Martin Sheen still in the White House, reading hard books. He liked keeping us safe. This was all so long ago, they may as well have been in togas.

But just for context: My dad had his 41st birthday during the Missile Crisis. It wasn't that long ago! I still have some of his suits from that period and they are killer! There was nothing inevitable about the outcome. None of those guys were that much smarter than you or me or Ricky Gervais or James Franco. The fact is that even the smartest people aren't that smart. People are idiots!

I used to think you had to be smart to be the president, and then Reagan got elected and even at age 12 I could tell he wasn't smart. George Bush, the elder, had the kind of intelligence of the school headmaster that gets pranked the same way every Halloween and never sees it coming. Clinton was Rotarian smart, but George W? Do you remember all the commentary at the time saying: ”George W. sounds like an idiot and he acts like an idiot, but don't underestimate him! You have to be super-smart to be the president!”

Ha, what a laugh! Turns out: ”Not!” All those presidents and CEOs we tacitly assume are probably super-secret-smart, even when they are visibly flummoxed and have stupid in their eyes, are actually just exactly as stupid as they appear. This is obvious, but at the same time, we think things like the Cuban Missile Crisis got ”solved” by some smart heroes. It was probably just an accident that all those numb-nuts didn't end the world.

We have got an election in three weeks and I am writing and recording this intro at 2:45am on Wednesday morning and I honestly cannot confidently make any contemporary reference for fear that two days from now, when it airs, we could be at war with Spain. The current president of the United States, who is undoubtedly showering his underlings right now in Big Mac scented Corona spittle from atop his Hustler magazine shoe lifts has among his legion of obsequious carbuncular toadies some poor Air Force officer who didn't ask to be there carrying the phone number of the apocalypse in a handbag.

There aren't enough checks and balances in the world to have that be the unquestioned state of affairs. I wouldn't trust the nuclear codes to any public figure, with the exception of Carl Sagan, who is dead, and maybe the guys from Flight of the Conchords. There aren't even any remotely smart people in the room this time. There don't seem to be any smart people left in the world! And worst of all: They are all wearing terrible suits! ”Let us hope the will of good men is enough to counter the terrible strength of this thing that was put in motion!” Today on Friendly Fire: Thirteen days.

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