The Jury Talks Back


Pence Walkout Was a Cynical, Expensive, Pre-Planned Stunt

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 5:00 pm

Susan Wright noted earlier that Mike Pence walked out of the Colts/49ers game, ostensibly because he was offended that the 49ers decided to “take a knee” during the national anthem.

Here’s the thing: he knew this was going to happen. The press was told to remain in the parking lot, and not even to bother coming in — as Pence would be leaving early.

Pence knew the 49ers would take a knee. Look at the timing. Trump made his incendiary “get that son of a b*tch off the field” remarks on September 22. The 49ers’ next game was October 1, and the 49ers very visibly took a knee during that game against the Cardinals:

The next game after that was today. And guess what? Press reports had already made it clear that the 49ers were going to continue their protests. It is well known: “The 49ers have been among the most visible protesters in the league.” Consider this interview with Eric Reid, in which he indicated that he planned to continue doing this:

Q: Will you protest throughout the season?

“I do plan on that, yes.”

Q: You talked to the 49ers PR staff but not the coach. What plans do you have in talking to the organization about it?

A: “Well I had a talk with Jed (York, the 49ers CEO) last year and he told me how he felt about the situation, that he believes it’s my right to do so and he wasn’t going to say anything to make me feel I need to stop doing it. I think that’s awesome that he just has a good heart and allows me to do it.”

And Trump said in a tweet that he ordered Pence to leave the game if anyone took a knee:

Which, as I just demonstrated, it was already clear was going to happen.

This was nothing more than a stunt. A premeditated and incredibly cynical stunt. I was going to call it a “cheap stunt” — but that would be wildly inaccurate, because it actually cost the taxpayers quite a lot of money. Consider: Pence had just been in Las Vegas, and his next stop was Los Angeles, a short plane flight west — but he instead flew all the back to Indianapolis for this photo op, taking his entourage and his security detail with him. The streets doubtless had to be blocked off for his motorcade. I’m quite sure special security precautions were taken for the Vice President of the United States. And all along, he planned to engage in a tawdry, pre-planned sham performance — with all the expense that entails — just to get people embroiled in a cynical culture war.

I agree with Ed Krayewski at Reason:

Pence certainly knew the history of the 49ers in the protests, or should have. . . . But had he simply chosen not to attend, he couldn’t have put on this show. That required giving money to the organization he claims he’s boycotting.

But Pence’s move isn’t about a genuinely-held belief. It’s a rank political stunt at the expense of taxpayers, and reveals the self-masturbatory nature of much of what government officials do.

Pence dragged Secret Service out to Lucas Stadium, only to throw a hissy fit and walk out.

I would add only: that was the plan all along.

Look: I personally disagree with the concept “taking a knee” during the national anthem. I always — always — stand up tall, put my hand on my heart, and sing. Not because some politician tells me to, but because I love my country. I set that example for my children. I don’t like these protests.

But I’m not going to sit for lectures about respecting our soldiers from Donald “I like people who weren’t captured” Trump or his pathetic toady Mike Pence. And I’m not going to let myself be hoodwinked by their horsesh*t antics. They planned this, they knew it would happen, and it is a manipulative, self-absorbed con job.

Just how stupid do you think we are?

If they want to pull something like this as a sort of campaign stunt, let them pay for it with campaign money. Don’t bill the taxpayers for this. This is why people hate government.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]


  1. I agree regarding taxpayers footing the bill; that bothers me, a lot.

    On the rest, though, I applaud what Pence did. And if it kicks off a boycott of the NFL by fans, I’ll be even more delighted.

    Comment by Arizona CJ — 10/8/2017 @ 5:15 pm

  2. There aren’t many things that Presidents do that everyone agrees with. We certainly paid for Obama’s scripted manipulation, and I guess we can pay for Trump’s, too.

    I wonder if Pence likes this kind of drama. He doesn’t strike me as the type. Maybe he needs someone like Trump to teach him how to manipulate the media and the public.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/8/2017 @ 6:29 pm

  3. Hosever.

    I believe Trump’s motivation is getting even with the NFL for not wanting him as a potential owner. Trump lives to get even and using his Presidential power to hurt them is a Big Problem for me. Presidents should not use their powers that way.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/8/2017 @ 6:36 pm

  4. It reminds me of the possibility that Obama did not like the British because of his grandfather’s history with them in Kenya, and as a result he looked for ways to antagonize and insult the British. A President doesn’t get to use his office to settle personal scores. His powers should be exercised in the public interest.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/8/2017 @ 6:52 pm

  5. Not to mention Obama using the IRS to target conservatives. Does anyone doubt that Trump would do the same if he could?

    Comment by DRJ — 10/8/2017 @ 6:55 pm

  6. I agree regarding taxpayers footing the bill; that bothers me, a lot.

    On the rest, though, I applaud what Pence did. And if it kicks off a boycott of the NFL by fans, I’ll be even more delighted.

    I find it impossible to applaud anything about what Pence did, given that I see it as a highly cynical and manipulative piece of political theater. Let’s talk about that some. If I am slow to respond, forgive me. On this Sunday night, I am working hard on a memo that I must turn in on Tuesday morning. I spent all yesterday on it and still have work to do.

    Comment by Patterico — 10/8/2017 @ 7:04 pm

  7. I see from Twitter, the comments here, the comments at the main site, and the comments at RedState, that my position here is not popular.

    It is what it is. It’s still my opinion.

    Comment by Patterico — 10/8/2017 @ 7:06 pm

  8. Oh and Facebook. People are unhappy with me there too!

    Comment by Patterico — 10/8/2017 @ 7:06 pm

  9. BLM started out as a protest against police.
    Trump seems to like police asserting authority.
    So he may in fact be doing this for something other than getting back at the NFL. (Or maybe it’s just icing on the cake.)

    Comment by kishnevi — 10/8/2017 @ 7:07 pm

  10. Oddly his grandfather Hussein onyango got over it, besides the luo were nit as targeted as the kikiyu.
    So I would say it was more attempt to get street credit, unearned, sort of the way I discovered the Bengali in Myanmar sided with the british.

    Pence I’m sure diesnt like politics getting into everything, but that is the alinsky way. Every institutions that opposes, and knowing the influence of Ayres wright Davis that would be the Military, law enforcement and non compliant churches

    Comment by narciso — 10/8/2017 @ 7:10 pm

  11. I don’t disagree with you, Patterico. I agree Trump and Pence are being cynical and manipulative, and I don’t like it but politicians do that. While we find that crass, it’s part of politics.

    Where I draw the line is politicians who use manipulation for a personal reason and not a public goal. Pence might actually care about the police but Trump? I doubt it. It’s just another wedge he’s using to stir up his base’s resentment, with the added benefit of hurting a group of people who hurt him.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/8/2017 @ 7:15 pm

  12. I don’t disagree with you, Patterico. I agree Trump and Pence are being cynical and manipulative, and I don’t like it but politicians do that. While we find that crass, it’s part of politics.

    Where I draw the line is politicians who use manipulation for a personal reason and not a public goal. Pence might actually care about the police but Trump? I doubt it. It’s just another wedge he’s using to stir up his base’s resentment, with the added benefit of hurting a group of people who hurt him.

    This may elucidate the problem I am having with Beldar’s analogies on the main thread. I don’t see this stunt as promoting a public purpose, but rather as accomplishing ego gratification for the narcissist in chief.

    Comment by Patterico — 10/8/2017 @ 7:25 pm

  13. I’m starting to change my mind. This is a protest by Trump and Pence, just as much as the NFL players’ actions are a protest. If the players are wrong, so are Pence and Trump.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/8/2017 @ 7:47 pm

  14. On tbe main blog a link about those who refuse to cow to to colau and puigdemont, the far left and pro Islamic section of Catalan society.

    Comment by narciso — 10/8/2017 @ 7:48 pm

  15. Specifically, I’m changing my mind that politicians can do this. They shouldn’t do it if they think the players shouldn’t do it.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/8/2017 @ 7:49 pm

  16. Of course, that would never bother Trump. Principles aren’t his concern. Competing is his concern:

    On competing: “I’m the first to admit that I am very competitive and that I’ll do nearly anything within legal bounds to win. Sometimes, part of making a deal is denigrating your competition.”

    That works in politics but not in governing. He is supposed to be everyone’s President.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/8/2017 @ 8:07 pm

  17. @ PAtterico,

    I’m usually very slow to respond, sometimes days.

    I happen to agree with you about this being political theater. But so is what some of the players are doing, and likewise the NFL owners who won’t stand up to them. It’s all cynical as hell IMHO.

    There was a time when I would say “take the high road”. But the left cured me of that. Now, I’m not only fine with, but applaud, fighting fire with fire.

    And I do see this as in aid of the public good – it’s an issue where the public is largely against the left. That kind of issue is just begging to be exploited, because it’s always good to choose the ground for one’s battles. I have no idea if that’s why Trump and Pence are doing it, but I do heartily approve of the fact it is being done.

    I respect your opinion, Patterico, though I do disagree with part of it in this case. And to that I say; what a boring world it would be if we all agreed on everything. :)

    Comment by Arizona CJ — 10/8/2017 @ 9:14 pm

  18. Let’s separate the personalities from the issues for a moment. As a general rule, is it part of the duties of the President of the United States to get involved in a public controversy? No, not as a general rule. But… is it part of the duties of the President of the United States to get involved in a public controversy that is specifically about paying respect to the United States via its main symbol, the flag?

    When I consider that question abstractly, separated from the personalities involved, I can’t help but answer “Yes” to it. Should Congress ban things like flag-burning? Heck no: that’s definitely political speech and the First Amendment covers it. But would it be legitimate for members of Congress, or the President or VP, to express firm disapproval for such insults to the United States? Heck yeah. They are representatives of the country, and as such, I think they should express disapproval of insults to the United States.

    I’ve run through a number of scenarios in my mind. If we had President Ted Cruz right now, would I think it was appropriate for the President, or the VP as his representative, to express disapproval of people refusing to stand for the national anthem? Yes. What if it was President Obama, and the protesters were Tea Party people protesting the unconstitutionality of Obamacare? Well, despite my sympathy for the Tea Party, I’d still have to say the same thing: that it’s legitimate for the President to object to people refusing to stand for the national anthem. (Of course, I’m having a hard time picturing the Tea Party folks ever refusing to honor the flag, and I’m certainly unaware of any occasion on which any of them did so, but that’s irrelevant to the point I’m trying to make.)

    So the question I’m left with is: if you agree with me that it would be appropriate for a different POTUS to object to behavior that disrespects the country, then why would be inappropriate for Trump to do so? Granting arguendo that Trump is doing so not out of principle but out of manipulative cynicism: if he does the right thing for the wrong motives, does that make it the wrong thing?

    Comment by Robin Munn — 10/9/2017 @ 12:49 am

  19. It’s not about whether a President and Vice President should weigh in on this topic. It’s about whether they should use tactics like this to do it. We have a reality TV show President who uses dramatic tactics that appeal to emotion, not reason. Doing that is effective but not wise, because it prompts people to respond emotionally. Clearly patriotism is an emotional topic but Trump/Pence are exploiting it, not helping Americans use reason to resolve a national problem.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/9/2017 @ 1:18 am

  20. I expect things like this from Presidents Obama and Trump, but that doesn’t make them right. I hope President Cruz would never do this.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/9/2017 @ 1:20 am

  21. To answer you’re question, Robin, it isn’t the right thing to use emotion to inflame passions on an issue and being on the “right side” of an issue doesn’t change that. Liberals think they are on the right side of this issue, too.

    We could follow the liberal playbook and rely on emotion to make arguments. Trump’s election proves there are people on the right who want that to happen. Maybe they want to get even or maybe they are tired of living up to a different set of rules. But let me ask you a question, Robin: Will anyone change their minds if both sides use emotion like this? Will anything get resolved?

    Comment by DRJ — 10/9/2017 @ 1:34 am

  22. Your question, not you’re question. Sorry.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/9/2017 @ 1:35 am

  23. DRJ –

    You make a good point about appealing to emotions vs. appealing to reason. You’re quite right that appealing to reason is far better than inflaming passions with no reasonable argument in sight. But let me ask you a question: should one never appeal to emotions in any way?

    It’s a well-known principle that to convince someone, you need to appeal to both their reason and their emotions. In Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People, he quoted the old saying “A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.”

    And in this case, where the subject is patriotism (an inherently emotionally-laden subject), I would argue that only an emotional appeal will succeed in getting anyone to change their minds. People who were 90% convinced by the BLM movement on the basis of emotions — “Those poor people getting killed by racist cops!” — aren’t going to have their minds changed by being told facts (the autopsy proved that Michael Brown was charging at Officer Wilson at the time he was shot). Their reaction is going to be denial: they won’t want to believe that everyone they trust (the media, their college professors) has been telling them falsehoods. BUT… if they first see a contrast between the bad behavior of the BLM movement (NFL players insulting their country) and good behavior by the people they thought were bad (VP Pence walking out on the game when his country is insulted — that will count as “good behavior” to the emotions of anyone who feels patriotic), they’ll become less convinced of the correctness of the BLM movement. Say, from 90% down to 80% or so. These numbers are pulled out of my hat, but since CNN polls say that 14% of Democrats think that Trump was doing the right thing by criticizing those players, I’d say my guess of a 10% shift is likely within the right ballpark.

    Now, once you’ve used an emotional appeal to disarm people’s resistance to being persuaded, you then have to apply reason. There, I don’t think Trump’s going to do a good job, so I think you have a point when you say that nothing will get resolved. But if so, it will be because Trump failed to follow up the emotional appeal with a good reasoned argument, not because the emotional appeal would have inherently been ineffective at changing people’s minds. And while, like you, I’d personally prefer to live in a world where pure logic was effective at getting people to change their minds — we have to deal with the world we have, not the world we want.

    P.S. Now that you’ve read through my argument once, I’d like you to read through it again, with a critical eye to where I used Dale Carnegie’s approach on you. (If you have a copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People, look at Part 3, “How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking” while you do so). Can you spot how I appealed to your emotion first, then to your reason? By first agreeing with you on the general principle that reason is superior to emotions, I was aiming to disarm any tendency you might have to bridle and say, “Wait a minute, you didn’t listen to me at all!” Did you notice it at the time? Or did that initial agreement smoothe the way for you to accept my reasoned argument more easily?

    And the most important question is: now that I’ve pointed out what I did, do you feel that I manipulated you by the way I framed my argument?

    Comment by Robin Munn — 10/9/2017 @ 3:22 am

  24. I agree it was a stunt, and one that again brings the office of the Presidency down into the gutter, which seems to be the new normal since 2008.

    Comment by Sean — 10/9/2017 @ 4:41 am

  25. Emotional decisions are hard to change but not impossible, Robin. I think that appealing to or manipulating people’s emotions in the short-term, but not in the long-term. Reason works in the long-term.

    Of course, that’s not the Carnegie way. He was a master salesman like Trump, but all he really cared about was the sale. After that it wasn’t his problem. Ditto Trump. But Presidents are supposed to solve problems, not sell gimmicks. I see this as another Trump gimmick, like the Wall, meant to get people to sign on to today’s emotional topic.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/9/2017 @ 6:28 am

  26. In the revised edition of Carnegie’s book, he says in Chapter 24: “You will never change anyone’s mind on the Internet.”

    OK not really. But if he were still around I would like to think he would have said that.

    Great book btw. Read it as a child. I do not always follow the lessons but they are good ones and timeless.

    Comment by Patterico — 10/9/2017 @ 6:30 am

  27. Carnegie was a great salesman because of his techniques, but what made them work was his underlying principle that we should treat people the way we want to be treated. If not for that guiding principle, he would just be another master manipulator.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/9/2017 @ 7:03 am

  28. Which brings me back to your point, Robin. Sales tactics without content is a gimmick. Carnegie had tactics and principles but Trump only has tactics.
    Thus, your argument that Republicans have to start the process to win doesn’t work with me. The GOP can’t win without substance, and Trump offers no substance.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/9/2017 @ 8:12 am

  29. There are people who care about facts, Robin , even in highly charged cases. There is a reason the left needs professional organizers and celebrity football players to perpetuate the narrative.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/9/2017 @ 8:17 am

  30. I don’t think that “cynical” correctly describes Pence’s stunt. And I took a different message, although I don’t know if Trump/Pence intended it, from the stunt. That message is that the NFL can’t control what political statements are presented at sports entertainment events and that its gotten out of control. Its time for the NFL to eliminate this silliness as its done them great damage. But again, as has been said, our political class are just fundamentally stupid and incompetent.

    Comment by SPQR — 10/9/2017 @ 8:57 am

  31. And people believe the lie, query any sample of urban youth, and you’ll see how many don’t know the truth, in another bracket Leon Wolfe doesnt care.

    Comment by narciso — 10/9/2017 @ 2:37 pm

  32. That’s an interesting and different way of seeing this, SPQR. Good point.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/9/2017 @ 3:16 pm

  33. Remember how there was outrage over the apca in ferguson, and the arresting of some reports, but they had left of theicture, this WA the second instance of looting in a week.

    Comment by narciso — 10/10/2017 @ 3:48 am

  34. narciso, I’m afraid your comment is garbled.

    Comment by SPQR — 10/10/2017 @ 10:15 am

  35. Sorry when national guard arrived with all the surplus military equipment, after the first wave of looting

    Comment by narciso — 10/10/2017 @ 12:33 pm

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