Gate-Keeper for Propaganda Kash Patel Failed His First Test as DOD Chief of Staff

Yesterday, six US service members died in a helicopter crash in the Sinai Peninsula.

A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter belonging to a US-led international peacekeeping force crashed in Egypt’s Sinai region on Thursday, killing eight people, including six Americans, officials said. One wounded US service member was airlifted to a hospital in Israel by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

“During a routine mission in the vicinity of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, nine members of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) were involved in a helicopter crash,” the force said in a statement posted on its website.

As the WaPo pointed out, Joe Biden offered condolences to their families. Trump did not. He was too busy rage-tweeting and harming democracy.

Meantime, national security actions and requests for briefings from the president are drying up, the person said, and the team preparing updates for Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris is “very frustrated.”

It was Biden who offered the first public condolences to the families of the service members who died in Egypt. “I join all Americans in honoring their sacrifice, as I keep their loved ones in my prayers,” he wrote on Twitter in the early afternoon Thursday.

By that time, Trump had issued nearly four dozen critical tweets and retweets about the election results and Fox News, including a baseless conspiracy theory from a far-right television network that alleged votes had been improperly tallied in Pennsylvania. He also found time to thank actor Scott Baio for posting a photo of a craft store’s candle display, which had been arranged to spell out, “Trump is still your president.”

But it’s not just President Trump — who focused his first election campaign on Hillary’s purported negligence during the Benghazi attack that killed four Americans — who let six Americans die with little notice.

It’s also newly installed Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller. As Barbara Starr noted on Twitter yesterday, it took over two hours after the deaths were announced before Miller issued condolences, and the Joint Chiefs did not make a statement until after she first tweeted it.

This is the kind of thing that, in a normal era, works like clockwork in the Pentagon.

But yesterday, days after Devin Nunes flunky Kash Patel was installed as Chief of Staff at DOD, that clockwork failed.

Kash Patel has done a spectacular job, throughout the Trump Administration, of ensuring that accurate information doesn’t get to his principals, whether that’s Nunes, Trump himself (Patel was at NSC pretending to be an expert on Ukraine during impeachment), presumably at ODNI when he led a house-cleaning effort there, and now DOD.

But there’s no reason to believe that preventing people from getting accurate information translates into being an effective Chief of Staff for one of the world’s biggest bureaucracies.

I guess it’s up to the Republicans who are enabling this attack on the country by the Lame Duck President to decide how much damage they want Trump’s flunkies to do in the interim.

89 replies
  1. TimH says:

    It works either way but in “Kash Patel has done a spectacular job, throughout the Trump Administration, of ensuring that accurate information doesn’t get to his principles…”, I suspect you meant principals.

    • earlofhuntingon says:

      Probably. But it she meant “his or their” principles, whatever they are, it would be equally accurate.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Thanks, Tim H. I was going to point that out, but you did so with much more wit. My only quibble: does Kash Patel possess principles? I’ve never seen evidence of any, and I’ve looked hard.

        • TimH says:

          For one them, yes. The others were from back in the day when people went to free-ish industry seminars and conferences, and people handed out their cards like confetti.

          I knew someone at The Fruit Company 10 years ago who said that employees could pick any title (and logo color or colour) to go on their business cards.

        • bmaz says:

          Heh, I’ve never been overly free to hand out business cards to folks I was not already starting to deal with. Occasionally, but not like confetti as you describe, although know people that do.

          The worst mistake I ever made was when redesigning my card, not realizing that the print was too small. It “was” hard to read. And got replaced ASAP.

        • Raven Eye says:

          When I worked at DHS I started telling folks at conferences and shows, “Dang. I just ran out of business cards.” Otherwise my official email would get spammed before I even got back to the office.

          I must have been traveling in coach on the Ego Express.

        • noromo says:

          In my no-longer-in-corporate life, I find the old business cards make very handy shims. Actually, they were just as handy for that then, too.

        • Yohei72 says:

          “Principle Engineer” – If I were an ethical philosopher by profession, that’s what I would put on my business cards.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Marcy, we love you all that much more because your embarrassment is so PALpable. Your sincerity and willingness to admit error strengthens our regard for you. I’m sure many of us would like to follow your example.

    • Uncle Nadler says:

      He’s an investigator and prosecuter that has top secret clearance. Who better to see what has been going on at CIA DHS and DoD? Who gives a crap if he can run the department. That’s not why he is there right now.

  2. Rugger9 says:

    It is a GOP thing to loudly proclaim they love the troops but fail on the most basic tasks when in charge of them: clear plans, keeping them as safe as possible, honoring their sacrifices and learning the lessons to avoid further SNAFUs.

    There aren’t plans except to fight where DJT wants them to fight, which can change on a whim or when Vlad whispers something in his ear. The collision incidents in the Seventh Fleet were due to inadequate training and low staffing as fundamental preconditions.

    The Russians put bounties on our troops’ heads in Afghanistan and DJT did nothing, not even protest. SecNAV fired the CO of the Theodore Rossevelt for trying to protect his crew from COVID-19 and was cashiered himself shortly thereafter for being a jackass.

    We have DJT’s statements about being “suckers” and “losers” as well as from the very beginning the obtuse way he tried to lie about what he told the widow of Sergeant LaDavid Johnson killed in Niger. Before that we had W’s administration in the Iraq war telling a WA base commander to cut back on memorial services (because it hurt morale to have so many), so the WH wanted to have just one a month like for company birthday soirees. W also cut out of laying his Veterans Day wreath one year to go make a political speech in PA as I recall, so the disrespect of who the GOP considers the “help” is not new.

    Combine that with the observation that Pentagon officers are more likely to be ambitious political animals looking to advance and the lack of pushback from the JCS (whose lack of action here is inexcusable) can be explained if not excused. That kind of attitude also hinders learning from their mistakes.

    It will be interesting to see how much Tom Cotton or Dan Crenshaw (among others) raise hell about this, but since it was mostly crickets after Bountygate, I don’t expect much beyond a pro forma statement if that much.

    • Alan Charbonneau says:

      “… Pentagon officers are more likely to be ambitious political animals looking to advance…”

      Yep. I recall that when Eisenhower was told he could not cut defense spending, he replied that if he gave another star to every general who cut his budget, there would be “such a rush to cut costs you’ll have to get out of the way.”

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    No surprise about Kash Patel. Calling him Otto would be an exaggeration. But calling stupid would be an insult to stupid people, and he probably does think the London Underground is a political movement. Patel has flamed out – but upward – his entire career, which means he has the benefit of someone else’s juice.

    Patel was the woebegone who flew in from Main Justice to the Rio Grande Valley to attend an immigration hearing and to throw his bantamweight around. The judge asked him what he was doing, disheveled, not briefed on the case, and not admitted in Texas (or de facto qualified to practice anywhere). Patel mumbled an answer and the court reamed him out for wasting his time and DoJ resources.

    When working for Devin Nunes, Patel parachuted into London, ignoring all protocols about announcing himself to the embassy and UK officials. He tried to surprise a former government official and strong-arm him into talking on the record in a congressional investigation. His target was a former MI6 field agent and Russia desk officer (and president of the Cambridge Union). Christopher Steele told him to fuck off.

    Patel is a classic example of a lowly courtier who thinks he has the power and smarts of his principal. He is now the bottleneck between a new, unqualified SecDef and the defense community. He’s also a walking wire for the Trump White House, which has declared war on the Pentagon. He’ll be lucky if anybody tells him their name, rank, and serial number.

    • Rugger9 says:

      I think it would be hard to figure out exactly whose stripes he is wearing (as we’d say it in the USN) given how much he’s bounced around the various departments. It would tell me that whoever it is that person is in the WH itself or a top deputy like AG Barr.

      I’d agree the Pentagon people will tell him as little as possible, not so much because he’s a snitch but because DJT lost and will be gone in 68 days.

    • Raven Eye says:

      1. I must admit that the picture of that doofus with the SES flag in the background frosts me more than a little. I’ve spent enough years in DC to have encountered a number of SESs both professionally and socially. For career civil servants making SES is a significant achievement. There are some potential downsides (read the SES guidebook) which enter into the decision, but as whole, they’re a qualified and seasoned bunch. And some are surprisingly humble.

      2. The political appointees are a much more diverse (in terms of competency and temperament) bunch. Career civilians, military personnel, and contractors approach them with caution. Some turn out to be OK, but there are also those who are revealed as sniveling, partisan, ill-informed ass-hats who are barely competent as managers, and even less so as leaders. For all the criticism of the federal bureaucracy’s inertia, one benefit is that it serves as a buffer to some of these people. It’s not uncommon to hear: “Well, he/she will be gone in and we’ll still be here”. The career people usually have recovery plans in their hip pockets – and they soldier on.

      Fortunately for us, Patel’s term will last no longer than 7.5 Scaramuccis — which will seem much, much longer to those who are forced to work closely with him. He might be in for a bit of an eye-opener, assuming he’s bright enough to recognize reality when it smacks him in the face.

  4. BobCon says:

    The clockwork analogy is right — this is the kind of thing the Pentagon typically handles without any involvement whatsoever by the top officials. I know someone who was a PR officer in Afghanistan, and part of his job was issuing press notifications after the deaths of service members. It’s an extremely formal, well defined process.

    What this says to me is that the process has either been explicitly broken by Trump appointees, or else lower level people are sitting on their hands waiting for specific instructions and authorization before doing anything. Neither one is a good thing.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The Pentagon has rules and procedures for everything. Issuing announcements about service members killed and wounded – and promptly notifying next of kin – is something it does almost every day. Moving large numbers of men and women in proximity to weapons and machines, at altitude, on the sea, or in difficult terrain means there are frequent losses.

      I agree with your supposition. It never pays to assume what a new commander wants, especially an anxiously political one. If the Pentagon botched a routine announcement about a loss of life in peacetime – involving an aircraft, in Saudi Arabia, on a joint mission – it might be because people were waiting for orders, and to see whether these new hires knew to give them.

      • Rugger9 says:

        On average, a carrier battlegroup loses four sailors (more or less) on a six-month deployment, for exactly the reasons you note. Training missions especially involving new technology like night vision for pilots, amphibious vehicles or the Osprey tilt-rotor generate many casualties as the lessons are learned about using the systems.

        While I was on my carrier, we lost two in two years, where one was a sailor that wandered into the jet thrust of an A-7 and was bounced off the jet blast deflector into the sea, and the other was a pilot that had his oxygen fail at altitude and his plane went down. We were lucky, considering how quickly nonskid gets blown off by jets and F-14s are pretty leaky beasts (they seal up at high speeds) on the deck.

        While I was on my cruiser, one of the other escorts had a helo roll off the flight deck into the glassy sea (it wasn’t an SH-3), no warning.

        Working with fuel, bullets, missiles, bombs, etc. on underway replenishment is also quite dangerous and very few navies try it.

        • Molly Pitcher says:

          bmaz, the truth is out about ASU-Cal. Game canceled because Herm Edwards is positive for Covid. I think this season is on its last legs across the country.

        • bmaz says:

          Oh shit, I did not know it was the Herminator! Ouch. This was always going to be the problem with trying to play college football. Jeebus.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          A high school friend enlisted in the Navy. His friend and shipmate was working on deck during routine carrier flight ops. An arresting gear cable snapped. Cut him in half. Shit happens. Trump’s new hires don’t seem prepared for that, nor does anyone else in this administration.

        • P J Evans says:

          It reads to me like they’ve never had to work in the real world. (Utility company has lost people to “shit happens”. Last year it was a guy killed when a contractor ruptured the house line and the place blew up.)

        • Rugger9 says:

          Not now, but when the NV goggles were brought in I know pilots had to adjust along with some crashes. Apparently, the horizon was different but I’m an engineer, not an air-dale.

        • madwand says:

          Yep, and field of vision was severely restricted, you lost peripheral vision, and you had to rotate your head constantly to make up for the loss of field of vision, so keeping your head on a swivel was a must.

        • Molly Pitcher says:

          My brother-in-law is an Annapolis grad and one of the ships under his direct command was USS David R. Ray (DD-971), a Spruance-class destroyer. He was also the Exec Asst to the Admiral in charge of CINCPAC.

        • Rugger9 says:

          My scary-smart roommate at Nuclear Power School and prototype was the son of a naval officer (he went to MIT) who was chief of staff for Third Fleet. So, his real job was to organize golf for the admiral and as soon as he left the thundering herd followed out the door (except for the duty crew). Life on shore Stateside during the Cold War…

        • mospeck says:

          Marcy, what is trump’s plan in taking out the tops at DoD, HomelandSec, NatSec, ElectionSec, NSA, Gina’s Spooks and Wray’s Feds? Something is cooking, but I don’t get it.

          Meanwhile, Rugger9, you bring things back and I remember Baker Street and the aircraft carrier 40 years ago. USS Ranger deployment to camel station we lost one kid during the hostage crisis (the one where Carter failed to bomb Tehran, where my brother in law was living back in those days. And no, you cannot make this stuff up). How the 19 year old kid died: he’d been to captain’s mast for smoking dope and ended up in CCU (correctional custody unit). West Pac used to punish bad sailors by running them on the flight deck (PI in the morning 90 deg and 90 pct humidity). This was so they could watch their fellows going out on liberty on Magsasay boulevard to party with their hoochie coochie girls. The kid got heat stroke that the brig chiefs were slow to recognize and ended up in jail. I remember that medical tried to restart his heart twice and also that the juke boxes everywhere were playing Baker Street

        • Molly Pitcher says:

          Mospeck, that is such a tragic story. But at the time not surprising. My husband played basketball for Cal in the late 70’s and water was withheld during practices until the coaches thought you had ‘run lines’ long and fast enough to make up for bad play.

          Gotta make you TOUGH. Of course his coach chain smoked in the locker room at halftime and would occasionally mix up the chalk and his cigarette. They had to bite their cheeks to not laugh out loud at him.

          Now he looks back on how they were treated, and it was insane. These days they practically pour gatorade and water down your throat for you. Hard learned lessons I’m afraid.

        • madwand says:

          In combat the army classifies KIAs into two categories, crown and ether. One is for genuinely being killed in action, the other for being killed in an accident in a combat zone. My brigade size unit had 23 of the latter before we even started out looking for the bad guys. Helicopter crash during a training exercise, walking in an old French minefield drowning to name a few. Combat is dangerous and unfortunately sometimes we were our own worst enemy.

        • Norskeflamthrower says:

          “Combat is dangerous and sometimes we were our own worst enemy.”

          I spent 6 months in the ER and pre-op ward and 6 months on the orthopedic surgical team of a 500 bed evacuation hospital in the central highlands. Every day I saw plenty of the results of combat including victims of friendly fire and casualties from back blasts of 105’s and 155’s and GI’s that died drunk in jeep accidents. “…we were our own worst enemy” defines that entire horrible, unnecessary madness.

        • madwand says:

          Had to do a Line of Duty investigation on a troop who had blown off half a foot with an M72 canister round and who had been evacuated to the hospital in Qui Nhon. Helicoptered from Eagle to Phu Bai, caught a flight down country to An Khe and stopped over to wait a flight for Qui Nhon, got mortared, caught the flight to Qui Nhon which was fogged in and we circled for an hour over the ocean. The Captain lowered the clam shell doors and told us we had to ditch in the ocean take off our shoes and swim in the direction of shore. Fortunately the runway cleared enough and we were able to land where we promptly were caught in MPC changeover day. Had to wait 8 hours to get new script for the 8 dollars I had, but it was the only 8 dollars I had. Finally did the LDI and returned to Phu Bai on a C-130 where we had a hard landing. Turns out the Captain was doing his 30 days reserve training in country. Made it back to Eagle fortunately unscathed, and escaping a lot of opportunities for fate to have determined my existence in a different manner.

        • Ken says:

          My room mate from college was a Marine Hornet Driver. He was killed in a midair during ACM (Air Combat Maneuvering – aka dogfight training) over the Philippine Sea. My guess is they were flying out of Iwakuni. One of the aircraft magazines I subscribe to includes all of the aviation losses, both aircraft and aircrew. It gives you a sense of how dangerous it is and how often accidents happen. Granted, in many instances, it’s quite dangerous flying they are engaging in. Train like you fight, fight like you train.

          I remember my dad worked with a guy who was on carriers many decades ago. He talked to me about the people lost due to being sucked into inlets or walking into propeller blades. Which carrier were you on? I’m just curious about stuff like that, but if you don’t want to answer, I understand.

        • Rugger9 says:

          USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70). I started their first rugby squad (the Vermin) while serving as an engineer (our nickname for her was the “Mobile Chernobyl”), but the plant was actually very well designed. We had near misses with jet inlets and similar stuff, these can pull a sailor in from several feet away at full military power.

        • vvv says:

          My uncle (RIP) many years ago was the highest-ranking non-com in the Navy (underage when he enlisted), ended his career visiting the Pope numerous times with the Admiral in charge of the Mediterranean (I’ve no military experience and don’t know the nomenclature, me). Anyway, he told the story of being in charge of helo maintenance on the Enterprise (I did say, “many years ago”) and doing a test flight and ditching into the ocean for about 3 hours – and he couldn’t (never did learn to) swim – I believe they lost one.

        • madwand says:

          My brother also spent a few hours in the Atlantic after being knocked off his ship by a loose boom. Took the ship a couple of hours to stop and turn around, they threw him a life raft and he spent a few lonely hours by himself in the middle of the Atlantic.

  5. graham firchlis says:

    Simple questions sometimes have simple answers.

    Q: How much damage do Republicans want Trump and his flunkies to do?

    A: As much as possible.

  6. Molly Pitcher says:

    Ah, Donny Boy, ye canna go home again.

    “Scottish Leader Says Trump Should Face ‘Accountability’ In Turnberry Probe
    First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she won’t protect “the soon-to-be former president of the United States” if wrongdoing is found.”

    A scathing article about the Scottish government investigating “to seek an “unexplained wealth order” to determine the source of funding for Trump’s $60 million cash purchase of his Trump Turnberry golf resort in 2014, when his U.S. tax returns showed vast losses that allowed him to avoid paying any income taxes. Trump also owns the Trump Aberdeen resort in Scotland.”

    “We need to protect Scotland’s good name from association with the toxic Trump brand,” Green Party leader Patrick Harvie said in Parliament. Harvie first leveled his money laundering suspicions in February, when he referred to Trump’s “huge cash spending spree” in Scotland at a time when he was declaring bankruptcy on his casino business and defaulting on a Deutsche Bank loan.”

    • Rugger9 says:

      First Minister Sturgeon also made it clear this invocation of the UWO is a function of the Crown prosecutors and not the Scottish Government. It does not look well for DJT, however, when the Scottish Government is ready to push and BoJo in PMQs this week referred to DJT as the “former president”. I can’t imagine any part of the royals would support DJT versus Biden either, so who’s going to run interference for DJT with the capability to influence the Crown Prosecutor’s office?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        There are conflicting views over which body the law authorizes to issue an UWO. Issuing one for Trump is a hot potato no one wants just now. This will hang fire until at least January 20th – like a lot of Trump’s troubles.

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      But Trump built our military up to heights like no one has ever done before ?!?! How can this be possible ? Oh yeah, he robbed the DOD for his stupid, useless, incomplete wall while waiting for Mexico’s check to clear the bank.

    • Ken says:

      Yeah, but Navy leadership with regard to the ships they’re building hasn’t increased my trust in their decision making ability. Just look at the DDG-1000s. If I was the King of the Navy for a day, I would be buying more submarines and investing in a design for one of the modern super quiet brown water diesel subs. As for the new CVN’s, I think they will be great once they get them working. But, as an engineer, I’m appalled at some of the mistakes I’ve seen with these ships. I mean, seriously, elevators that can’t go all the way up and down because there is structure in their path? I definitely like the EM cat and trap gear. But they need to get these ships into the fleet ASAP.

      • P J Evans says:

        I wonder how much of that they’ve been leaving to the contractors. (The elevator thiing – that’s incredibly poor design checking.)

      • Rugger9 says:

        Cats take a lot of steam on the pre-Ford carriers, it’s one of the more significant loads we managed. Cats were also a bit tricky to design. Scuttlebutt had it that the Soviets tried but couldn’t get the process right, launching cats into the water with the planes and that was it for though-deck carriers, but… it’s scuttlebutt.

        However, the conceptual idea for the Fords about power management is quite sound. The issue with the elevators makes me wonder whether two contractors were involved, one for the deck and one for the elevator and no one shared their CAD files or used Solidworks. Sheesh….

      • Rugger9 says:

        The diesel electric sub already has several good designs but is limited for what the subs need to be able to do now. Even with the better snorkels the risk of detection from the operation of the diesel and detection of the snorkel limits these to attack roles IMHO. However, with the improved batteries we see from Tesla it might be worth looking at again because a diesel on battery is hard to find.

    • drouse says:

      China’s carriers speak more towards national prestige and future aspirations. They really want to become a true blue water force but they aren’t there yet. They have no tradition of carrier aviation and carrier ops have a really steep learning curve. The purchased one has become pretty much a training and development platform. The one undergoing trials now is going to get them experience actually doing carrier ops. They have one under construction with a sister ship in the planning stage.These latter two ships are supposed to be larger and use CATO instead of the load limiting ramps. So I would say their carrier ambitions are focused ten, fifteen years down the road. Unfortunately, their current strategy doesn’t rely on them. However, a conflict with China just might give an answer to the question of carriers: critical asset or big fat target..

      • Rugger9 says:

        The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is one of the significant problem areas. Their first carrier was bought from the Russians, but IMHO, the capabilities of the American carrier in terms of power projection dwarf those of any CATO or ramped carrier because of the aircraft that must be used.

        In the Falklands War, the Sea Harrier prevailed due to the fact the Argentine Super Etendard fighters had a very limited time on station, which between Japan and the USN carriers is not as much of an issue in the South China Sea. The PLAN’s purpose for their carriers is to try to enforce the “nine dash line” which was a Nationalist idea not related to actual rights, as well as conquer Taiwan, with whom we have a joint defense treaty obligation. The PLAN will need an amphib capability to pull that off and the USN needs to be out of the picture when they try (which might be part of humoring DJT, for a favor).

        • drouse says:

          Are we using the term CATO differently? I was under the impression that it stood for catapult assisted take off which is the system our carriers use. China might indeed want to use its carriers for enforcing the nine dash line but they are years from doing that creditably. Currently, they plan to use the bases they’ve created in the Spratleys and other places to push their missiles and land based fighters as far out as possible. This is intended to push our carriers further out because they think that we will be understandably reluctant to put these hugely expensive platforms at risk unnecessarily. This puts us in Argentina’s spot where nothing can get close for long without refueling. Which pretty much has to be done out of range of the land based fighters. This scenario is why I think the service is so keen to get the unmanned tanker drones into service. By using a comparatively expendable tanker, we get a larger ability to tolerate risk.

        • Rugger9 says:

          Nope, brain fart on my part, I was thinking JATO. However, one would hope that the EM drive for the Fords would be a closely guarded secret.

      • madwand says:

        The Chinese don’t expect to be on a par militarily with the US until 2050 which leaves a lot of time for development and training and a lot of time for the US to prepare how to counter them. High on their list is the development of hypersonic weapons capable of knocking out carriers. The Chinese are focused more on defense rather than projecting offensive capabilities at the current stage. Launch 50 100 hypersonic low-level missiles at a carrier it is most likely toast. Thats even the strategy of the Iranians who don’t possess hypersonic weapons but do have a lot of missiles and one or two of many might cripple a carrier. Cruising through the Strait of Hormuz might be great for morale, but is stupid in case of actual conflict. IMHO US has to rethink their current reliance on WW2 technology and tactics. Carriers still have to get to 200 miles of the coast to launch, and that makes them very vulnerable.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Large law firm, Porter Wright, joins the firms dropping their representation of the Trump campaign and its voter fraud suits. The buzz is they’ve come to Jesus. That highly favorable explanation, though, assumes facts not in evidence. They might just as easily have concluded the campaign can’t or won’t pay its bills.

    • P J Evans says:

      They’ve seen the quality of the evidence the GOP-T has, and have concluded that getting out is better than being sanctioned by the courts.

      AZ and PA have concluded that there’s no way that Donald can win the recounts, so it’s over. Biden 306, Trmp 232.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Democratic House leadership starts with octogenarians Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and Jim Clyburn. Their age alone makes them especially vulnerable to the risks of Covid. That’s on top of the risks to and from those they meet and spend time with.

    And yet, despite the new surge in Covid cases and deaths, Pelosi, Hoyer, and Clyburn have scheduled an in-person, closed-room dinner to meet ‘n greet newly-elected House members. (The Goopers are doing the same, but that’s on brand for them.) WTF are they doing, asking House Democrats to remove them from their demonstrably out of touch leadership?

        • P J Evans says:

          Not tone-deaf, I think, but not used to the way things are this year. She’ll be retiring in another couple of years.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          That’s a long time. It will hobble progressive change, which is probably the point.

          The idea of holding a widely press-covered, indoor, in-person, sit-down dinner for people with this responsibility should have been a non-starter to any sentient congresscritter.

        • P J Evans says:

          We’ll see what happens when the next Congress takes its seat. She may not be the Speaker in the next session.

        • Epicurus says:

          Pelosi wasn’t the major factor in the house races. The easiest way to think of house races is standard deviations. The standard deviation varies from state to state. America is a conservative country once one gets between the east and west coasts. In house races the winner is less than one standard deviation away from most of the district’s state of mind; the loser is more than one standard deviation away. Trump in his magical way made sure that Democrats were painted as police defunders, as pro-civil unrest, as anti-fracking/anti-jobs in a green new deal imposition i.e. more than one standard deviation. The progressives fed right into Trump’s portrayal. It was like watching an ambush about four hours before it happened. If the future is The Squad, someone should give them reality lessons. Lesson one: people are all for change, just not change that affects them.

        • graham firchlis says:

          Perhaps you are referring to Median Voter Theory, recently streched and deformed by success of the extremes of both political parties. In this model it is the median that shifts from state to state, more precisely from voting district to district. Your deviation from the median construct is apt.

          Significant recruitment from the nonvoter pool can shift the median significantly, and that shift cannot be easily detected in pre-election polls of likely voters. This largely unpredictable skew was unseen but manifested in 2016 and again this year. The Georgia Democratic GOTV result is a fine example.

          All politics is local, and while national campaigns have effect they are all refocused through the lense of local interests. In particular, Democratic Party leadership has much less local effect than many observers suggest.

          Unlike Republicans who tend strongly towards lockstep message uniformity, the inherent anarchical nature of Democratic politicians can either blunt or magnify national messaging. Some candidates are more skilled than others. Useful analysis must focus on local phenomena and performance more than national leadership.

          Obsessing on Pelosi and other senior Democratic leadership can blind observers to the need for individualized district candidate selection and tailored messaging. One size does not fit all.

          Major socioeconomic events can reset the median. Covid19 and the associated economic disaster can be such an event. Mobilizing eligible but previously nonparticiating voters can be a path forward for progressive policy, but messaging that frightens away voters or simplistically undermining wholly legitimate caucus-selected leadership won’t get it done.

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