Meltdown

 Posted by on October 2, 2010 at 2:09 pm  Season 4
Oct 022010
 

You know how it is. You get to a certain point in your life and you have a plan. You know exactly what the destination is so you’ve marked out every step of your route. Man, it might’ve taken you long to figure it out but you finally did it and, I gotta hand it to you, it feels good. You feel good. So good, in fact, you might be a little smug. You have a PLAN. From here on in you are SET, baby, set.

Don, Joan and Lane are people with plans. Certainly at the beginning of last Sunday’s episode, they probably all had a little mental drawing of it. And then, of course, the unexpected happens.

Don, who probably had the ultimate long-term plan, is now face to face with a situation for which he failed to draw up a contingency program. While he might be very good at improvising a whole advertising campaign, he’s not the kind to roll with life’s punches. He breaks downs and panics. I always admire Hamm’s ability to pull off Don’s contradictions; he’s quite convincing at showing a man who’s both cool under pressure in business and a total mess when it comes to emotions. As many have already pointed out, that panic attack was utterly believable. But he’s built his life on a lie of such tremendous magnitude that sooner or later his life is apt to self-destruct.

Lane appears utterly liberated from his previous life. He now seems more settled with his divorce and more assured about what he wants. What’s more he looks like he’s ready to take a big gluttonous bite out of his slice of the pie. And then Dad comes into town and strikes him down. His fresh new life is over before it even began.

Joan hadn’t even begun drawing up her plan when she found out she was pregnant with the wrong man’s baby. Again. And suddenly she had to face the prospect of having a third abortion, after she had already voiced her doubts about her fertility.

While all three are expert at putting up a calm face, each one is facing a plan breaking down precisely because they refuse to face reality. Joan refuses to face her very real disappointment about her husband and what marriage with such a man entails. As much as I love Joan and as much of a realist as she purportedly is, she’s still holding on to the idea of marriage as her lifeline. Her husband may love her but he regularly makes life-altering decisions without consulting her until it’s too late.

For some reason I can’t fathom Lane thought that his abusive alcoholic Dad would suddenly transform into a tolerant, supportive father. He felt empowered and so he must’ve built up some fantasy in his mind about his father suddenly accepting him as his own person. Why else would he insist on inviting him to have dinner with him and Toni? What kept Lane from punching this abusive man back when he was 17? Lane refuses to stand up for himself. How can he be strong enough to have a real interracial relationship? An abusive person never voluntarily gives up control over you. You have to take back your own power on your own terms. It’s your responsibility, really.

Of course we’ve all talked about Don’s ultimate refusal since the very beginning: his refusal to accept who he really is and the fact that it’s precisely where he comes from that made him who he is. It is not Don Draper who gave Dick Whitman the life he built, it’s Dick Whitman who created everything Don Draper enjoys. The resourcefulness, the ability to think on his feet, the persuasive charm — Dick developed those because he needed to survive that harsh upbringing. But he’s still ashamed of where he came from. In fact, he’s rigged it all so that the lies add further to his shame.

Basically, as cheesy as it sounds, they’re all seeing their plans come undone because they’ve refused to face reality. It’s only by facing reality that you truly earn the life you deserve. And so it’s apt that these characters are reflecting the larger lies that America had to face during the 60s: the role of men and women as well as the legacy of slavery and segregation. It’s a little too neat, a bit too easy but isn’t it how it really plays out in life? On a small and very personal scale?

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  44 Responses to “Meltdown”

  1. I am a retired Air Force Reservist and I have been pondering Don’s desertion predicament for a while, and this seems like as good a place as any to post my thoughts.

    While I don’t have a background on military justice I have been doing some research on desertion and the military justice system. While technically wartime desertion is punishable up to and including the death penalty, in reality very few deserters ever even serve jail time. Most are given less than honorable discharges and let go. dishonorable.

    When Dr. Faye suggested to Don last Sunday that he should consult a lawyer I had to keep myself from yelling back at the TV “Yes! Exactly—please listen to her!” I actually thought for a moment that this is where the story was headed—that Don would get some good legal advice and realize that his predicament is probably not as dire as he imagines it to be.

    Again I am no expert but I think a good lawyer would stand a pretty good chance of getting Don off with no jail time and a dishonorable discharge as Dick Whitman. He could argue mitigating circumstances such as it was not premeditated and began with a mistaken identity (even though we as viewers know this is not true.) After that he could simply legally change his name from Dick Whitman to Donald Draper (since that is what everyone knows him as anyway) and the whole thing would be over.

    Something I don’t really know anything about is what sort of legal predicament stealing the identity of and living in the civilian world as Donald Draper would place him in.

    I have no doubt that Matt Weiner has consulted with the experts and has a pretty good idea what Don could realistically expect should he be exposed or come forward. We’ll just have to wait and see where he takes us.

  2. #1 Like you I served active duty and then reserves in the USMC from 1955 until 1985. My civilian movie studio career was entwined with my Reserve assignments.

    I am sure you are correct. Even back in 1955 desertion or extended AWOL resulted in some brig time and a dishonorable discharge. Under the circumstances shown in the Korea flash-back any defense attorney would argue reasonable doubt. Dick is the only surviving witness. Probably nobody who treated Dick/Don in the Army hospital could be found and would still have detailed memory.

    However, the lies on the application constitute very serious felony charges for perjury. False ID when asking for a clearance still is a big deal. Betty also lied to the FBI agents so would be facing felony obstruction of justice charges. The way it worked is that the US Attorney would charge both Don and Betty, then hammer out a plea deal with Don/Dick doing prison time in exchange for dropping the charges against Betty.

    It is absurd to think that by not taking the NAA ad contract the investigation into Don/Dick would end. Going back to Jet Set the entire NAA/Rocket Convention scenario is nonsense. But this is Mad Men Logic. As Bert Cooper says, “Who Cares?” Mad Men is entertainment, not a history lesson.

    First of all, although Pete probably could have received a clearance in 1962, Paul Kinsey would never have been cleared because of his drug use and radical politics. No way, no days could Don Draper have been a last minute substitute since it took months then to receive a clearance and of course Don would have been exposed.

    Second, during the rocket convention presentations some of the technology was not yet conceived and the rest was so Top Secret it would only be discussed on need-to-know in very secure facilities.

    Third, applications for security clearance were not delivered to homes and businesses. In the real world up to long after 1965, if a contractor such as NAA wanted people cleared, they would send the request to DoD. They would request the FBI do a background check. DoD eventually took over that function years later.

    Fourth, the FBI would notify those needing clearance to report to one of the FBI offices to start the process. At least two sets of finger prints would be rolled by a trained FBI technician. Then the application would be filled in by hand by the applicant, with an FBI witness, under penalty of perjury. The signature would be notarized.

    Fifth, although the details of the FBI investigation have never been officially been disclosed, enough information has leaked we know the process. It all started with a finger print check. In this case the fresh prints of Dick/Don would be compared to Lt Draper. The FBI had copies of all the military finger prints dating to before WWI.

    Of course Dick Whitman’s prints did not match Lt Draper. At that point, without telling outsiders, the FBI would start a criminal investigation. They would classify Dick’s prints. Within a couple of days they would match Pvt. Whitman, who putatively is dead. A check of US Army financial records would show that death benefits were paid to Dick’s relatives, so fraud charges would be added.

    As soon as the FBI felt they could prove charges against Dick Whitman they would bring the case to the US Attorney. That case might be presented to a Federal Grand Jury, either before Whitman’s arrest or after that.

    From J Edgar Hoover organizing the FBI, it is their policy to never disclose anything about an investigation until that is completed, a report written and that being approved by supervisors.

    No way, no days would the FBI tell NAA or the DoD anything about red flags. The FBI would not necessarily be told that NAA withdrew a request for a clearance. The FBI would be following a criminal case, which could only be stopped by order of The Director.

    Now that is a fascinating thought. Is it possible that Bert Cooper is a best friend with J Edgar Hoover? Best guess is Bert was born about 1890, maybe a couple of years earlier. Hoover might be slightly younger. His parents were civil servants. It well could be that Bert met Edgar during the 1920′s before Hoover organized the FBI.

  3. #2

    Wow! Great explanation of the process. And my 2 cents… I think the two men pretending to be lost who scared Don in the hallway and caused the panic attack were FBI. His instincts were actually good and he is under surveillance.

  4. Posters #1 & 2…thanks for your very interesting info and thoughts about the legal ramifications of Don’s deeds. Wow.

    “…for some reason I can’t fathom why Lane thought that his abusive alcholic Dad would suddenly transform into a tolerant, supportive father..”

    This is very common with abuse victims. They know in their heads the “well is still dry”, yet their hearts still aren’t informed about this fact.

    This reminds me of Pete wanting to call him mom to tell her of his promotion, and Trudy gently admonishes him with the adadge I used above.

    We so want those we love and look up to to…..love us back!

  5. Delightful.

    I see Peggy and Pete as much more active in their shaping plans/building contingency plans… as opposed to these three who are become rather passive in response to how their plans have crumbled.

    I’m curious as to what you (and other Basketcases) think about Roger’s plan? And does this link up with BCooper’s recent post “Not a Spoiler”?

  6. Deborah, Thank you for creating BoK so we can discuss all the details of Mad Men.

    Trust me, I am not upset when to create fascinating fiction facts are cast aside. I constantly try to refer to Mad Men Logic and suspension of disbelief, like when watching a magic show.

    It also frustrates me that even the fact you hold a security clearance is itself a secret, meaning a good test is when a person talks about being cleared chances are they were not, unless they are vague. I really wish I could share more about security background checks.

    Through AMC I did provide MW’s staff a heads-up about Jet Set, which had been edited before AMC saw it. To savor the story it helps to go along with the logic. Then later, it provides endless material for additional research.

    I still do not know why the restaurant selected by Mark was Forum of the Twelve Caesars. The Mad Men staff had to know it was the top floor of the Time-Life Building. But thinking about that distracts from the drama when Peggy puts on her coat and hat.

  7. Really excellent, #1 and #2 — thank you for sharing!

  8. This is extraordinarily enlightening. One more thing to add re Don’s directive to Pete to “tell them we want Martin Marietta and Lockheed.” SCDP would have been the same boat with MM when it came to security clearance. The only way they would get Lockheed without a staff investigation was to go after its aviation business (Lockheed still built commercial planes). That didn’t really make sense.

    I am certain Don can take care of his legal situation. But he may not be able to deal with his emotional situation as easily. Even if he stops running, he needs to choose a new direction. Can he be Don Draper as Dick Whitman?

  9. #2 Wouldn’t they have to prove that Betty was lying? Betty could argue that she didn’t know the truth about Don until the FBI/DoD told her. After all, she was married to the man for 11 years before she found out. I don’t see how they could prove she knew, as their marriage certificate will show that they didn’t marry until years after the crime. I can’t imagine Don allowing Betty to go down with him if (yeah, if) there was anything he could do about it.
    I have a question: What would getting a dishonourable discharge mean? What would the practical ramifications be on Don/Dick’s life in 1965?
    I also have to agree about Lane. You seriously think that a 17 year old would strike back at a man who’s been abusing him his whole life? Some would, and kudos to them, but they’re the minority.

  10. Whether the restaurant is in the same building or not, if I am leaving the office with no intention of returning before I go home, I take my stuff with me. Hat, coat, purse, briefcase, and if I shopped that day, the bag with my purchases in it. And it’s easier to wear the coat than to juggle it along with anything else I have in my hands. So, for me, there would be no problem at all with Peggy’s intended departure attire.

  11. CCA I applaud you.

  12. #10

    A dishonorable discharge is definitely serious business. But if he really is tired of running he could decide it is worth it.

    Here is a quick c&p:

    http://www.ehow.com/list_6139124_consequences-dishonorable-discharge-military.html

    • Being dishonorably discharged from any branch of the armed forces is the rough equivalent of being convicted of a felony in civilian courts. A dishonorable discharge can be handed down only by the decision of a military court martial process, and even then only for serious infractions or reprehensible actions such as sexual assault, desertion or murder. Typically, these types of infractions result in additional sentencing–such as jail time or similar punishments–being meted out alongside the dishonorable discharge. A soldier who has been dishonorably discharged will also face a large variety of additional consequences once he returns to civilian life.

    Loss of Military Benefits

    • A soldier who has been dishonorably discharged from the military forfeits his right to any benefits he might have had access to upon his return to civilian life. This can include the loss of medical insurance, GI bills and college pay. In addition, the soldier loses the right to the status of “veteran” in accordance with United States Code, which defines a veteran as any member of the active armed forces who has not been given a dishonorable discharge. This also prevents the dischargee from gaining any nonmilitary veterans benefits, such as preferential consideration on university entrance exams and job applications. Any form of government aid is withheld from a soldier who was dishonorably discharged.

    Loss of Certain Freedoms

    • In addition to losing his veterans benefits, the dishonorable dischargee will be unable to apply for unemployment benefits upon entering into civilian life. More than likely the dischargee will also lose the ability to apply for bank loans and will be barred from serving in any level of government service–especially those of the armed forces. If the soldier was discharged because of a felony conviction, he also loses the right to vote and the ability to hold public office, and will be unable to sit on a jury for an extended period of time. The dischargee is also barred from purchasing or owning any sort of firearm under Title 18 of the United States Code.

    Sentencing

    • Dishonorable discharges are rarely meted out as stand-alone punishments. Because the soldier must do something truly reprehensible in the eyes of the military before she is considered for a dishonorable discharge, additional punishments will usually accompany the discharge. These consequences are many and varied, and are decided by the presiding officer at the general court-martial once the guilt of the soldier has been determined–the proceedings essentially mirror those of civilian courts, only all the participants are active military personnel.

    The Unquantifiable

    • Because a soldier who has been dishonorably discharged is essentially a convicted felon, he faces the same difficulties that a felon might in his daily life. Finding a job will be difficult, any relationships he had will suffer, and possibly his own psyche will be greatly damaged by the event. Beyond what has been listed in the preceding sections, there can be any number of consequences unique to each individual. Suffice it to say that a dishonorable discharge is not something to be taken lightly and will affect nearly every facet of a soldier’s life.

  13. I should point out that this is current law and not necessarily what was in place in 1965.

  14. CCA,

    Thanks for your thoughts and additional background. While watching I also knew from my own experience obtaining a clearance that it was not plausible for Don to not be aware of and actively involved in the process–which of course he never would have done—but such is the world of Mad Men. I also find it a little implausible that someone as smart as Don would not at some point get legal counsel about his predicament. I really thought for a moment he was going to take Faye’s advice. While we know Don is terrified of being exposed, we don’t know what he thinks the consequences would be. If he fears a long prison term or even life, I am certain it would be far less.

  15. A statistic: the desertion rate for the Korean War was 22.5 per 1,000 soldiers.

    The Army offers a separation code called “honorable wartime service prior to desertion.” Don’s attorney certainly could make a case that Dick Whitman served honorably — he was awarded a Purple Heart, after all.

  16. Thank you #1 and #2. I too have been talking back to the tube telling Don to get a lawyer! There are extenuating circumstances galore to hang his hat on – switching dog tags was not premeditated, it happened post-explosion (post-concussion?); Graves Registration blew the initial identification – they never rely solely on dog tags; Dick supported Don’s widow for years; we don’t know that he took any advantage of military benefits that he wouldn’t otherwise be entitled to anyway, etc. etc. etc. So many posters seem to think he’d either be shot or sit in Leavenworth breaking rocks for 20 years it drives me nuts. As far as most of the world is concerned “Don Draper” has been an upstanding citizen, productively employed, paying taxes, raising a family and so on.

    And I was glad to see CCA’s post on security clearance. I have a now-retired brother-in-law who was an MP in Vietnam, Secret Service on Vice-Presidential detail in the Ford administration, security for our state’s governor after that, and then undercover with the state police for many years. There are stories he will never be able to tell anyone.

    Another (former) sister-in-law underwent a security check in anticipation of being appointed to a high level state job, which she subsequently got. And our son-in-law also has security clearance because he just completed training for working on a Navy nuclear sub. They check all your family, friends, co-workers, former employers, neighbors, the whole nine yards.

    I like the idea of Bert Cooper knowing JEdgar. My father (a police chief and FBI graduate) met him on several occasions. Truly, one never knows where loyalty is born.

  17. It seems to me that even if Don could somehow avoid any consequences legally, he is too publicly the face of SCDP for the scandal to not destroy the business especially at this time in the Cold War. Perhaps earlier…but not after you have been the WSJ pretty boy!

  18. #10, #11 and #12

    Although the Forum started in a different location, by early 1965 it was in the Time-Life Building.

    It is not necessary to prove a person lied, misleading is enough, to be found guilty of obstruction of justice.

    Of course Peggy would take all her belongings with her, but in NYC at that time it would be more common to carry your over coat.

  19. Timely topic!

    I have been trying for about a week to get the official Pentagon media spokesperson who handles TV show inquiries to respond to my request for info, in order to write a guest piece for BoK on the very subject of the UCMJ — Uniform Code of Miliary Justice (circa 1965) — and how it applies to Don/Dick.

    Pentagon PR guy hasn’t gotten back to me yet. This came from my also wondering what could/would happen to Dick if the US military did find out he switched dog tags with Don and has been passing himself off as Don ever since.

    There’s a clause in the UCMJ called Fraudulent Separation from Service — which, in addition to Desertion, applies to Dick/Don. Passing yourself off as a deceased officer certainly counts as fraudulent separation.

    The UDMJ has been revised a few times but the same version was in effect in 1965 as during Don’s time of service.

    I think the worst problem for Don is that, regardless of the actual penalties (which might be mild given the amount of time that has passed), the scandal would be embarrassing for his family and probably for Henry (although it was easier back in the day to hide this kind of thing — no viral media). And scandalous in the ad industry as well, given that Don now has a public persona and is considered newsworthy.

    Roger would hate it, although Roger’s opinion isn’t that important anymore.

    Also, as Vietnam heated up, attitudes about patriotism became very inflamed. (Those of us of a certain age remember the bumper sticker: “America: Love It or Leave It.”)

    I don’t picture many business execs in ex-military heavy industries like aerospace engineering wanting to do business with a deserter and officer impersonator….Don would be a liablity with any old-school, conservative businessmen. And they do seem to make up the majority of their clients.

    It could be a big nothing in the end, but it certainly isn’t a plus. People have strong feelings about military service, and these feelings were front and center from 1967 on.

  20. One other circumstance about Whitman’s desertion: it occurred in 1950 in Korea, in temperate weather. That would put it during the NK invasion of the South. The few troops stationed there at the time, and the reinforcements rushed over from Japan, were reportedly not at a high standard of readiness. Training and discipline was slack. Ideally they would have been brought up to standard after some serious training, but there was no time.
    As a result there were many cases of poor performance in combat. Whole battalions were reported to have retreated without serious or even actual enemy contact. The high rates of casualties in POW camps and actual defections were from this demoralized group.
    The Army was still trying to keep this quiet in the 60′s, and a determined defense lawyer might have been able to cut a deal for ex-Pvt. Whitman, especially if he got wind of the number of officers who were allowed to resign or retire rather than face embarrassing (for the Army) charges.
    Or if he’d mused allowed about calling Pat Robertson as a witness.

  21. I’ll tell you who is having a meltdown. All the viewers who wish they were ten to fifteen years older (like myself) so they could better understand the ins and outs of the early sixties from an older point of view because we were preoccupied at the time learning reading from Dick and Jane at school and particularly if you went to Catholic school (as I did) we were going into a depression so deep when JFK assassinated ’cause our teachers were frozen in time with grief and that was all we can remember. Don’t get me wrong, I love the challenge of trying to figure out what the hidden clues in Mad Men are, but I feel completely lost at this point to place things like The Forum restaurant into any kind of meaningful context other than it was decadent. That is why I cling to Peggy and Pete I suppose to rise to the forefront and seize control of SCDP. I can relate to their frustration that they want to steer the ship but it is not yet their time. I am sensing (and I could be wrong, no -probably am wrong) that the death of Roger is a sealed deal because this is symbolic of something much greater. I normally do not watch any television because I find the majority of programs too silly. I only started watching Mad Men in season three because I figured if it was getting so much praise it was worth giving it a try. Well, I now am hooked and am not complaining here, just wish I had more to recall other than having The Beatles as my first favorite band. LOL.

  22. # 22 The point you make is one of the mysteries of Mad Men.I’m only guessing, but I also assume that Dick Whitman is serving in Korea in the Pusan perimeter in August 1950 when the real Don Draper was killed. The port of Pusan was the only outlet to the sea that American troops could be supplied from Japan. The North Korean Army had overrun the rest of South Korea.Dick Whitman is very lucky to be alive,found by American troops and not the North Koreans.
    The reason I watch Mad Men is because how did Dick Whitman go from a hospital bed in Korea in 1950 to hot shot Madison Avenue ad man in 11 years. We learn this year Don Draper did not finish high school which makes me think that Dick Whitman enlisted in the Army around 1949 when he might have 18 or 19. One thing I do believe was that Abigail and Uncle Max did not want him around and he wanted nothing to do with them. Could Dick Whitman have done what he has done without becoming Don Draper ? Peggy still can remain Peggy, yet Dick had to become Don.
    I find in Don Draper a character that I both like and hate.

  23. #23 Actually during the Korea flash-back in was stated it was December 1950. That was a very hard and early winter in Korea. By that December where there was fighting there was snow on the ground.

    All of the US Army troops on the ground in Korea up to late spring of 1951 were all combat veterans of WWII. The first Army force consisted of WWII soldiers who never left active duty. When Pres. Truman announced the USA would send forces to Korea, recruiting stations were flooded by WWII vets re-enlisting. They only required a brief physical conditioning period.

    You are right that some feel the Army forces in Japan were not totally combat ready in June 1950. Part of the Army problem was they had not trained any recruits during 1948 and 1949 in advanced combat infantry.

    The early USMC forces to land in Korea in 1950 consisted of a mix of WWII combat vets and well-trained younger Marines who had enlisted during 1948 and 1949. The USMC trained far more in combat infantry those years than did the US Army.

  24. #21 The UCMJ had not been written until after Korea. The only military laws under which Dick could be charged were those in effect in early 1951.

    From a legal standpoint Dick needs to be worried about charges from 1965 of perjury on his application.

    #22 Matt Weiner has never articulated what he intended the Korea flash-back to mean. During the flash-back in Nixon vs Kennedy it is stated the time is December 1950. There are significant problems with the flash-back:

    There should have been snow on the ground. The US Army did not have any soldiers younger than 23, and all WWII vets, in Korea at that time.

    Dick Whitman would have been a bit young to have served in combat during WWII if he was born in 1926.

    So, is it possible the entire flash-back was a “false memory” by Dick Whitman? Perhaps he was 22 or so in June 1950 and could not find steady work. He enlisted as did thousands of others. Before he could be transported to Korea in some way Dick obtained enough information about the dead Lt Draper that he could assume that identity. It is possible that because Dick could type he was assigned to clerical duty in a US Army records office?

    Until Matt Weiner decides to explain all the time-line differences and so on, we will never be sure how Dick Whitman turned into Don Draper, Mad Man.

  25. # 23 Lorna Moir

    Excellent point, but many of us use that historical knowledge mainly to gain insights about the series direction and character motivation. I’m less happy with the various “gotcha’s” (“That shade of blue was NOT available until 1965!!!”).

    I would say enjoy the series for the very high standard of acting and writing and mise en scene ( a useful, untranslatable term for “the way everything looks onscreen”) and forget the small stuff. My local community college has a run of “Life” from 1936 on in bound volumes available on the shelf. If you have a similar resource, spend an hour or two looking over the 60′s–better than anything for the mood, especially the ads.

    In a popular culture class we were looking over a “Look” from 1965. There was an article about a 19 year old Marine’s day in Viet Nam. Opposite the black and white photos of the Marine was a full color Coke ad–a Coke and an ice cream shake–and it came up that the ad did not “insult” the Marine. It looked like something that he could and would enjoy, maybe back at base. It was something from his world.

    Whereas today you might see an article about a forward base in Afghanistan, or a bomb disposal team, in something like “Vanity Fair”, next an ad for something that couldn’t be bought with a soldier’s entire death benefit, much less the price of a Coke.

  26. Is this really a security clearance, or is it just a background check? I’m a government employee, but no one is about to hand me secrets (I think it’s called a “non-sensitive” position). Would anyone be about to hand an ADVERTISING agency secure information? I would think that these are more just background checks, and therefore wouldn’t be the same level of scrutiny as a security clearance.

    Although, I will say I had to give up my fingerprints, information such as every place I’d lived for the previous five years (since I was young and nomadic, this was 12 places), past military service, and names of relatives who worked for the government, etc.

    So it would have found Don Draper out anyway.

  27. Truman signed legislation approving the new UCMJ in May 1950. Until then an archaic patchwork of discipline (rather than justice) was in effect, much of it based on the British Articles of War dating back to the 18th century. Apparently there were so many court-martials and executions of soldiers in WWII that the public and veterans made a public outcry. (Now there’s a little known fact.)

    If anything, the rules in force in 1950 were much more punitive than the new 1951 UCMJ which actually did provide a clear-cut judicial process with rights for military personnel.

    I’d like to see Don consult a military lawyer privately instead of freaking out reflexively. However, we don’t know if his extreme angst is so much about fear as it is about an identity crisis. We all assumed it was raw fear of being punished by the government for what he did (it certainly looked that way when he flipped over the “G-men”) but maybe it was more existential…I really don’t know.

    Interesting topic for sure.

  28. Lorna,
    Don’t beat yourself up.

    I was there and I know my perspective is, of course, quite subjective.

    Perhaps the only undeniably true comment out of the dozens, if not hundreds, that I have contributed was to clarify the usage/meaning of the word “looseleaf” when it came up in Season Three. I don’t think that was on this blog.

    NYC area kids called a 3-ring binder a looseleaf, even though technically that is the name of the paper that goes in it. I was in college when I discovered it was called a binder by other people! (Then again, in Michigan a water fountain was called a bubbler, a lollipop was a sucker, a hair barette was pronounced BAR-ette, crayon was pronounced “Cran”, poem was pronounced “poym” by my friend from North Carolina, et etc).

    As you surely must agree, that is not a terribly meaningful contribution to the great MM blogosphere — but it is the only one I can say with any assurance is unarguably correct.

    So guess and conjecture away.

  29. NYC area kids called a 3-ring binder a looseleaf

    In PA, we also called it a looseleaf, short for “looseleaf notebook.” And bookbags — I had forgotten about bookbags. Sort of like today’s messenger bags, only not nearly so cool.

  30. #2 CCA — wowee. Thanks for that.

    #28 raisin mountaineer, I agree. Background checks, not security clearances. But still fingerprinted.

    Also am loving the discussion of the Korean war — thanks. I know so little about it, even though my dad was born in 1924, was career Air Force, and flew C-130s during the Korean War.

    I kinda hate that the show is “just teevee” and Mad-Men Logic, actually. I spend a lot of time rethinking my own childhood because of these storylines.

  31. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Cantara Christopher, Ron Fisher. Ron Fisher said: @RuthAnneAdams read the interesting comments here: http://www.lippsisters.com/2010/10/02/meltdown/ [...]

  32. #27 Steve and #30 jzzy55 -

    Thanks so much for your support! I wrote that early in the morning and as soon as I hit send I thought OMG they’ll think I’m a drunk. (Sad to say perfectly sober, just awake). It’s good to know that you get that those in my situation don’t want to waste space on a this incredible site and want to contribute meaningful things to say.
    Steve – the Life idea sounds fantastic! I’ll check in my local libraries and schools.
    jzzy55 – I will continue to “conjecture” , but far less. Instead, I have decided to buy a composition notebook (also called a black and white notebook) with the hard covers and the big spaces between lines (used in school by most 1st and 2nd graders)to start making notes for myself to sort out the massive information everyone provides in a way I can filter better. I know this sounds anal, but for myself it will serve to ground my confusion and help me look at each character and plot twist as a continuum versus a frantic attempt by MW to confuse us. (I want to believe that is not his intention or what Ida said to Peggy would also then apply to us!)
    I know this is early, but peace and love guys!

  33. “I’m enjoying the story so far, but I have a feeling it’s not going to end well.”

    The 2010 speculation on possible legal defense of battle field desertion are shaped by the fact that outstanding defense (Robert Shapiro) can carry the day in the face of overwhelming evidence. However, Dick Whitman has a lot to answer for: identity theft, desertion, and homicide as well as obstructuon of justice. His accomplices after the fact include Betty Francis and Pete Campbell.

    A politically motivated prosecutor, be he US Attorney or Provost Marshall, has a rich field to work in. The award winning, WSJ interviewed advertising executive Don Draper has a lot of ways to loose.

  34. Hawk, what homicide did Dick Whitman commit?

  35. # 35 Hawk Says:

    “…Dick Whitman has a lot to answer for: identity theft, desertion, and homicide as well as obstructuon of justice. His accomplices after the fact include Betty Francis and Pete Campbell.”

    and:

    “Don Draper has a lot of ways to (lose)”

    The latter point is correct, however:

    Whom did he (Whitman) kill?

    How would any prosecutor or investigator know that Betty or Pete were “accomplices”? Only Cooper or Draper could implicate Campbell (unlikely). Only Draper could implicate Betty (even more unlikely).

    Campbell is “guilty” of keeping mum – a crime?

    Betty could easily claim that Draper kept all a secret, though, in her case, I suppose a couple G-Men could “squeeze” her – tell her that Don sold her out and elicit some testimony.

  36. Dark Peggy,
    LT Draper died in a fuel explosion, ignited by Dick Whitman. As many recall, Whitman then swapped dog tags with the dead body in order to advance his service time and leave the conflict.

    Betty Francis and Pete Campbell lied to federal agents conducting a (presumed) security background check on “Don Draper”, and if discovered, they have acted as accessories after the fact.

    The twists and betrayals that could uncover these facts are unpredictable, but the facts remain and the risks grow for all wrapped up in Don Draper’s downward spiral.

  37. Yes, Hawk, I get that’s what happened but how does that, constitute homicide? It was an accident. Even if Dick hadn’t swapped the tags and told the Army exactly what had happened, I doubt they’d have taken that Purple Heart back or that they would have tried him for homicide. I get that you dislike him and want him to go down but do you need to pile on crimes that he didn’t really commit?

  38. Legal considerations aside, I think this entire season has been strongly pointing to the self-imposed, prison-like nature of Don’s problems. I think each episode brings this revelation closer and closer to full circle. Last week, Don’s panicked, violent reaction to the DoD “G-men” paying his flat neighbors a visit drove this point home. He insists that he’s tired of running and yet makes no attempt to finally resolve the situation, despite attempts from outsiders like Pete and Faye to interject a reasonable assessment and suggest ways of “riding it out.” Don is essentially living inside a prison of his own making and he cannot (or will not) identify any means of escape. “There’s a way out that he doesn’t know about” – in fact, he seems resolute in refusing to acknowledge that such a possibility even exists. Like Sisyphus, Don is psychologically chained to his mistakes and is destined to repeat them over and over and over.

    For me, the remainder of this series will revolve around how well Don will ever be able to scale the emotional and psychological barriers he has erected and escape his voluntary prison.

  39. #38, the explosion was absolutely an accident — with no witnesses for real or imagined foul play, in a battle zone no less. There is absolutely no way anyone would attempt to prosecute Dick Whitman for homicide (or even involuntary manslaughter), all these years later. And with such an influx of dead and living men coming home from war, many of whom may have sadly been maimed beyond recognition, name mix-ups were bound to happen. In any case, no one would ever be able to prove that Dick switched dog tags with Donald Draper. I think we have a bit of infamous “CSI effect” going on here.

  40. Time will tell if a motivated prosecutor emerges and begins to mine the case.

    “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
    John Quincy Adams, 1770

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