PowerLine | Trump’s combative campaign manager strikes again
Posted: 20 Mar 2016 03:30 PM PDT
Earlier this month, reporter Michelle Fields accused Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, of manhandling her at a campaign event. Lewandowski denied doing so, but the video evidence seems to support Fields.
Trump rewarded Lewandowski for his assault by giving him a place next to him during his victory speech last Tuesday, and by singling Lewandowski out for praise during his address. “Corey, good job,” the tycoon exclaimed. I don’t recall this sort of shout out to Lewandowski in appearances prior to his grab of Fields.
Thus encouraged, Lewandowski apparently is in the roughing up business to stay. Yesterday, at a rally in Tucson, Arizona, the combative campaign manager waded into the crowd and grabbed a protester.
Since when is it a campaign manager’s job to police protesters at a campaign rally? The answer is, since Trump decided to build his campaign around the notion of “taking our country back.” He wants his supporters to understand that, if elected president, he will crack heads.
This, apparently, is part of what Trump means when he talks about America “winning again.” Indeed, it may be the most realistic part.
It’s highly unlikely that Trump will get Mexico to pay for his wall or, more generally, force powerful foreign leaders to bend to his will. But it’s plausible to think that Trump will kick ass when dealing with less formidable individuals such as political protesters or journalists who criticize him.
How did Trump react this time to his campaign manager’s aggression? In typical Trump fashion. He denied that Lewandowski touched the protester, claiming, contrary to the video evidence, that it was somebody else.
However, there is no dispute that Lewandowski waded into the crowd; in fact, Trump gave him “credit for having spirit” in doing so. He also explained that Lewandowski’s foray was necessary “because the security at the arena, the police, were a little bit lax, and [the protesters] had signs up that were horrendous.” (Emphasis added)
But according to John Fund, whose brother was on the Tuscon police force for thirty years, at a private arena such as the one Trump spoke at, the responsibility for security INSIDE the arena resides with the organizer, not the local police. Fund adds:
A currently serving police officer who attended the rally and is a Trump supporter told me that he viewed the private security Trump had there as the ones who were “lax.” He said that hiring off-duty cops is expensive at $30-plus an hour, and many private events don’t hire any, or only a couple.
“The security I saw at the rally were unprofessional and looked like rent-a-cops,” he told me. “It is insulting of Donald Trump to blame the police for his rally problems and we clearly were not [responsible].”
Is Trump too cheap or too incompetent to hire decent security at his events? Or does he want the kinds of scenes on display in Tucson, which enable him to dominate the news and reinforce his tough guy image?
In this respect, as in so many others, Donald Trump degrades our already parlous civic life.
Posted: 20 Mar 2016 12:59 PM PDT
Further to my observation this morning that game theory argues in favor of Republican obstruction of Judge Garland’s Supreme Court nomination, Bay Area Power Line reader Emmett C. Stanton sends along the following article which he submitted to the San Francisco Comical immediately following the death of Justice Scalia, but which the paper rejected. Here Stanton explains more fully why the logic of “prisoners’ dilemma,” the core exercise of game theory, applies just now (and thanks to Mr. Stanton for allowing us to post up his piece):
Let us assume that the people want their elected representatives to cooperate with one another to nominate and confirm outstanding men and women as Supreme Court justices. And let us further assume that presidents and senators would prefer that time when judicial nominees were not routinely subjected a politicized confirmation process. After all, the Senate unanimously confirmed Antonin Scalia in September 1986, just seven weeks before a mid-term election. A year later, “Borking” entered our lexicon.
Ironically, the first step on the return path to those halcyon days is for the Republican Senate to reject President Obama’s nominee to succeed Justice Scalia.
This unexpected answer comes not from law or history. It comes from game theory, and a series of “tournaments” conducted 35 years ago to determine the most successful strategy for Prisoners’ Dilemma.
The classic Prisoners’ Dilemma assumes the arrest and interrogation of two suspects. The police lack sufficient evidence to convict either, and offer a deal. If they each betray one another, they each serve 2 years in prison. If only one betrays the other, the traitor goes free but the betrayed comrade serves 3 years. If both cooperate and remain silent, they each serve 1 year on a lesser charge.
In the early 1980s Robert Axelrod (apparently, no relation to President Obama’s advisor David Axelrod) conducted several “tournaments” to identify the most successful strategy for a repeated, or iterative, prisoner’s dilemma—a condition more akin to our recurring judicial confirmation process. It turned out that the most successful strategy, the one that eventually resulted in cooperation between the criminal suspects, was “tit-for-tat,” or doing what your opponent had last done, with an occasional undeserved “cooperate” to prevent a destructive cycle of retaliation.
How do we apply this learning to judicial nominations? First, let’s think of the Senators as criminal gangs (admittedly, a thought experiment that isn’t too taxing), operating through their leaders, R and D. President Obama will announce his nominee; preferably, one with unchallenged legal credentials and character, irrespective of ideology. R announces that (almost) all is forgiven respecting past confirmation battles. No more complaining about past delays, recess appointments, filibusters, etc. But before the R Gang can return to that Edenic Garden of Cooperation, it must deal with the Original Defection: the rejection of Robert Bork. R announces that to reach a new State of Cooperation, D’s Bork Defection will be treated as Round 1 in the game, and the current Obama nomination will be treated as Round 2. R votes to “defect,” consistent with the tit-for-tat strategy, and freely discloses the game theory rationale.
Now, there will no doubt be some ugly and painful intermediate iterations before R and D decide it is in their mutual long run interest to cooperate. But that ugliness and pain will be no worse than what R and D have imposed on us for 30 years. And at least we will have reason to Hope that there will be a Change some day.
Posted: 20 Mar 2016 11:27 AM PDT
Early risers should tune in tomorrow and Tuesday morning as I’ll be guest-hosting the Bill Bennett show both days (6 – 9 am eastern time). We’re still working on the guest list, but tomorrow we’ll have for sure Henry Olsen at 6:35 am, and Prof. Joshua Dunn, co-author of an important new book just out, Passing on the Right: Conservative Professors in the Progressive University, needless to say a subject near and dear to my heart. As usual, if there isn’t an AM station carrying the show near you, you can listen online through the website, www.billbennett.com.
We might—who knows—even talk some about Trump, but certainly I’ll have some thoughts on Obama’s shameful trip to Cuba currently in progress. (Is it too late to make it a one-way trip? A guy can dream, can’t he?)
I’ll update this post as the guest list gets filled out and we line up Tuesday.
Posted: 20 Mar 2016 09:53 AM PDT
Lately I’ve been arguing with lefty acquaintances of mine who say, “Isn’t it terrible for the Republicans to play tit-for-tat over Court nominations” that surely they don’t seriously expect Republicans never to reciprocate for the shameful treatment of Republican judicial nominees, starting with Bork. Over 50 Bush judicial nominees were never given a hearing, let alone a vote—and not just in the final year in office. Democrats blocked a hearing for Miguel Estrada for several years (because a conservative Hispanic terrified Democratic Party racial uniformity enforcers). And let’s not forget Obama’s willingness to filibuster each of George W. Bush’s two Supreme Court nominees. Obama has no standing to complain about the treatment of Judge Garland.
Moreover, if you consult the basic literature of game theory, you’ll see that “tit-for-tat” is exactly how you should respond to a second party who is trying to gain advantage over you: only through a taste of their own medicine will the first party moderate its behavior.
But let’s not forget the original sin of this problem: the Democrats’ shameful behavior in the Bork nomination in 1987. No, I’m not willing to let this go, because it represented a dramatic change in the rules of judicial politics. Pottery Barn rule time: Democrats broke it—they need to own it.
Forget Joe Biden and his “rule” from 1992. Here’s Sen. Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in 1987:
“Say the administration sends up Bork, and, after our investigation, he looks a lot like another Scalia. I’d have to vote for him, and if the groups tear me apart, that’s the medicine I’ll have to take. I’m not Ted Kennedy.”
It didn’t take long for “the groups” to get to Biden, however, so much so that the the Washington Post raised an editorial eyebrow at Biden’s extraordinary stance, noting that it would be hard for Bork to get a fair hearing when the Judiciary Committee chairman “has already cast himself in the role of a prosecutor instead of a juror.”
Let’s not forget that Bork had been approved unanimously by the Senate for the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. So much for that Garland talking point.
There is nothing in the Constitution that says the Supreme Court has to be nine members. (See: FDR, 1937. Heh.) If they want to, Republicans could insist on simply not filling vacancies and shrinking the Court through retirements or deaths. I suspect Democrats will come to this position next time a Republican president wants to replace a liberal justice with a conservative justice. Might as well just blow it up now.
While we’re at it, let’s also recall the sheer anti-intellectualism and evasions of Democrats in the Bork fight. As Suzanne Garment commented at the time in the Wall Street Journal:
The irony here is large. For a long time now liberals in America have denounced conservatives for anti-intellectualism and represented themselves and the institutions they control, like universities and the courts, as preservers and defenders of intellect. In the Bork campaign they acted with a contempt for intellect at least as bad in its way as anything that came out of the fundamentalist Right of the 20s.
Posted: 20 Mar 2016 08:25 AM PDT
In today’s Star Tribune, my friend Kathy Kersten provides a local St. Paul angle to the politically inspired war on standards that Paul Mirengoff has been writing about over the past several years on Power Line. Kathy’s lead op-ed column will make heads explode all over Minnesota: “The school safety debate: Mollycoddle no more.” There is a relentless quality to Kathy’s analysis that extends from St. Paul Central High School to the White House. Kathy performs a feat in this column, violating just about all the rules of political correctness in one go. Please check it out.
Kathy is something like a one-person think tank. John Hinderaker would want me to note, however, that Kathy is a senior fellow at the think tank he heads, Minneapolis’s Center of the American Experiment, and is a key member of the team that means to save Minnesota.