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Outsiders vs. Insiders: How Christie and McCain wrote the manual on how NOT to win an election

In the annals of political history there have certainly been many manuals written on how to win an election. These scholarly treatments likely touched on practical themes such as get-out-the-vote organizing, advertising, fundraising, messaging and in many cases, communications coaching for the candidates.

These are good things. In today’s hyper-competitive political environment candidates for high office need all of these fundamentals to succeed; many a deserving would-be office-holder has come up short due to not Chris Christiepossessing the basic necessities of campaigning.

But wouldn’t it be just as useful to have a book on what NOT to do to win an election? It could be chock full of examples of establishment politicians doing and saying stupid and inane things that repelled voters rather than attracting them.

In such a primer you could include all but a couple candidates from the 2016 Republican Party presidential field. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in particular would suit the study well as this week the puffed-up politician once again opened up his big mouth on matters that would surely inflame the party base, making him a guaranteed loser (if he were running for office).

Louis Nelson of Politico reported, “Controversial Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio was not deserving of the pardon he was granted last week by President Donald Trump, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Wednesday morning, because he has been unwilling to admit guilt or show contrition for the crime he was convicted of…

“’This is not one [pardon] that I would do because of the person not seeming contrite for what he was convicted of,’ Christie said. ‘And so, you know, my concern about this is for us in these executive positions you need to use this power sparingly and you need to use it for people who are truly deserving.’”

If I’m not mistaken the president’s constitutional pardoning power extends to practically anyone at any time for any reason where federal offenses are at issue. Who cares whether a person says he or she’s sorry for whatever “crime” some Obama-appointed judge said they committed. It really doesn’t matter and Democrats have taken just as generous advantage of the privilege when they’ve possessed it (Marc Rich, anyone?).

As for contrition, what does Christie think Arpaio should apologize for, enforcing the law? Contrition is defined as repentance -- deep and genuine feelings of guilt and remorse; or, shame over past sins -- in the Roman Catholic Church, repentance for past sins and a firm resolve not to sin in the future.

It is true Arpaio apparently didn’t repent or show remorse for what he did. Politico’s Nelson further reported that Arpaio was convicted of “contempt of court for his office’s refusal to obey a court order requiring it to cease immigration enforcement practices that included the racial profiling of Latinos.”

Something about this “conviction” didn’t smell right from the start. Everyone knows Arpaio gained notoriety for years as a tough law enforcement officer who was one of a few who was willing to take matters into his own hands (within the law, of course) to make sure convicted criminals received punishments worthy of their transgressions and also to enforce the immigration statutes when a series of federal administrations were more than agreeable to looking the other way.

In time Arpaio attained hero-like status among the Republican base, the vast majority of which was heartily sick of politicians’ empty promises to get serious about illegal border crossings. Instead of being turned-off by media depictions of Arpaio imposing harsh punishments on helplessly vulnerable felons, most conservatives and Republicans were drawn to the sheriff’s eagerness to fulfill his duty despite the efforts of the wishy-washy politically correct establishment to stop him.

And if Arpaio was singled out simply because he targeted Latinos for detention, I doubt there are many Swedes or Namibians to be found crossing the Mexican border in Arizona. Though there’s probably an occasional non-Latino border crosser, the vast majority are of Hispanic ethnicity. Don’t they fit a profile?

Almost all international terrorism is perpetrated by young male Muslims from certain countries yet at the airport everyone gets put through the screening ringer specifically to avoid the appearance of “profiling”. I recently watched as TSA agents repeatedly violated my wheelchair-bound 83 year-old mother’s personal space while going through security. Did they believe she was a bona fide terrorist threat?

Profiling makes perfect sense in some situations, not so much in others. Common sense should always prevail. Good for Sheriff Joe.

The flimsy reasoning of the judge in Arpaio’s case was more than enough justification for Trump to pardon him. It was a popular decision with the GOP base, too, and only the usual ruling elite suspects objected. As reported by Fox News, Arizona Senator John McCain said, “The president has the authority to make this pardon, but doing so at this time undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law as Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for his actions.”

McCain’s sounds hauntingly similar to Christie’s whiny beef, doesn’t it? The ruling class just doesn’t get it. They’re a club that only a snobby fool would want to join.

McCain himself would make another good case study for a treatment on how NOT to win an election, though he somehow did manage to earn the GOP presidential nomination in 2008 due largely to his prominent military record and a big chunk of sympathy thrown his way for unfair campaign tactics the party establishment levied against him during the 2000 primaries against then Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

Add the fact McCain lied through his teeth to Republican voters about his true feelings on amnesty and illegal immigration and he fooled enough people to win. I for one could only stomach voting for him in the general election because he had Sarah Palin on the ticket – and I figured Obama would make an awful president.

I was right. But apparently there are a lot of Republicans including McCain, Christie and Speaker Paul Ryan who refuse to recognize that the GOP base actually values immigration enforcement and people like Sheriff Joe. The vacant Supreme Court seat acted as the largest factor in Trump’s victory last November but his voters also heavily appreciated the candidate’s immigration proposals – both concerning illegal crossings and his “extreme vetting” stance on Muslim refugees.

If Trump’s common sense policies were taken to their logical conclusion then maybe people like my mom would be able to fly somewhere without government officials waving metal detecting wands all over them. Who says the world can’t get better?

Bring on the profiling, I say.

It certainly wouldn’t be popular with the eternally image conscious Republican set who are terrified of being lumped in with Trump for fear of a backlash from the virtue signalers. It’s part of their “How NOT to win an election” strategy.

Speaking of what NOT to do to win an election, the president himself is wavering on one of his most important campaign promises – and coincidentally it involves immigration, too.

Andrew Restuccia and Eliana Johnson of Politico reported, “President Donald Trump often bristles at the constraints imposed on him by his aides, yet when it comes to Obama-era protections for young undocumented immigrants, he is at war with himself.

“The president has waffled between his campaign pledge to kill the policy known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, and his sympathy for the nearly 800,000 people whose lives could be upended if it’s repealed, aides say.

“As an unofficial Sept. 5 deadline looms, there are growing signs that Trump will decide to phase out the program. But administration officials say he remains conflicted, trying to find a middle ground that balances his instinct to be tough on immigration and his personal feelings.”

What, liberals now concede that Trump has a heart? Trump’s enemies and the media have made it their chosen mission to whenever possible depict the president as a pitiless man who’s guided only by all the vices of the “basket full of deplorables” – you know, racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia… you name it.

This is far from the truth. Trump is very compassionate, almost too “squishy” at his core.

Clearly Trump’s best move is to keep his campaign promise and end the Obama DACA program. The executive is not supposed to make immigration policy and it was an obvious overreach for Obama to do so in the first place.

In reversing Obama’s decision Trump would merely be turning the matter back to Congress to decide the fate of illegal immigrants who have been in this country for years. Let representatives and senators take the political risks and fallout from whatever they decide.

That’s what elections are for. People run for Congress with the intention of representing their constituents to the best of their ability. It certainly involves making difficult choices at times. But if the serious issues of this country are ever going to be resolved we need politicians with steel spines, not wimps who shrink from a fight.

The real wimps are the ones like Chris Christie and John McCain who wrote the manual on how NOT to win an election, right?

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