Friday, November 28, 2008

Patton -- Aspie?

Recently, I read an article on General George S. Patton that made my jaw drop. It speculated that Patton might have had Asperger's syndrome-or something very much like it. Patton has been in his grave for over 60 years now, so we'll never know for sure, but it certainly makes a certain amount of sense: brilliant intellect, terrible temper, uncanny ability to make grievious social gaffes....who knows?

I have always admired Patton for his self-confidence. He once said, 'There are people who disagree with me. They are wrong.'

Patton's political views certainly do not pass muster today. In his diary, he once wrote 'I met Cardinal Spellman. Anti-British, anti-Jew, Anti-Negro. what a guy!'

While Patton's politics and personality grated on a whole lot of people, he was an *excellent* battlefield commander. He was also a great trainer. One of his best, and truest maxims about effective traing was 'a pint of sweat will save you a gallon of blood'.

There's one story about Patton that I do not know if it is true or not, but here goes; during the Great Depression, Patton took command of a post, where, he soon learned that the local townspeople were not kindly disposed to his men. So, after a brainstorm, Patton arranged to have his men paid in two dollar bills. Very soon after payday, the townspeople adjusted their attitude.

In the closing days of WWII, a unit of Patton's 3rd Army found the secret location of the 3rd Reich's gold reserves- and a whole bunch of stolen artwork. After reporting this to Generals Bradley and Eisenhower, Patton admited that he had considered hiding the cache away until after the war when Congress started cutting defense spending- or dividing the loot among every man in the 3rd Army. That as pure Patton. He did not give a damn about money for himself (he was independently wealthy); he cared about his men and his unit.

Finally, upon occasion, Patton had a sense of humor. Anyone who has seen George C. Scott's portrayal of the General in the 1970 movie has probably wondered what Patton would have thought of it. I once in Reader's Digest (I've often looked for further corroboration, but haven't found any), that there was a young officer in the 3rd Army who could do a spot-on impersonation of the General's speech to his troops. This made this young officer very popular amongst his buddies. One night, he was doing his Patton impersonation on stage at a 3rd Army Officer's Club, when ol' Blood and Guts himself showed up. The young officer did his act, and later, went over to Patton's table, and asked him, 'Well, General, how did you enjoy the show tonight?'

And...there ....was...a...very...long....pause. And finally, Patton said, 'Son, I'm *not* going to say just who it is....but *one* of us is a *terrible* ham!'

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