Escalation of Commitment

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

In the early 1990s the New York Yankees’ owner, George Steinbrenner, was convinced that hitting is more important than pitching, so he kept spending fortunes on sluggers but too little on hurlers.  As a result the Yankees only had losing seasons and some of their batsmen lost their skills because they didn’t get enough playing time.  Things turned around when the owner stopped making personnel decisions and the Yankees won four World Series through the 2000 season.  The mistake Steinbrenner was making is called ‘escalation of commitment,’ and it’s what Trump is doing right now.  Last Wednesday the president declared that he had won the election and demanded that ‘all voting’ be stopped, even claiming victories in states he had already lost.  Since no votes could be cast after Tuesday the president probably meant that vote counting be stopped, which was later nuanced by the demand that counting be stopped in states where he was winning but continue in states where he was losing.  Since then the Trump campaign has filed frivolous lawsuits about election fraud in multiple states, of which it has already lost twelve and counting.

Pundits called the lawsuits ‘an insult to Hail Mary passes,’ and while Biden’s victory was being called things got worse when Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, held a press conference at the Four Seasons landscaping company in Philadelphia, next to a sex shop, apparently because the Trump campaign had forgotten to book the Four Seasons hotel.  As is his unique style Hizzoner blurted out accusations without any proof, only emphasizing that the president is a sore loser.  Trump’s strategy is now aimed at getting recounts in the states that put Biden over the top, in spite of knowing that the eventual result won’t be affected.  Meanwhile AG Barr has given prosecutors permission to look into election fraud, a violation of longstanding policy that made the main election crime expert at DOJ resign.  The president’s shenanigans are a dead end street from a legal perspective, but his campaign still hopes that the Supreme Court somehow will overturn the election result.  Trump’s obstruction of the transition process is nowhere more visible than in the General Services Administration’s refusal to give Biden’s team access to funding and records.  

Scorching the earth before he leaves office the president yesterday fired Secretary of Defense Esper with a tweet.  Esper had once told Trump that he could not use the armed forces to combat unrest in the cities, which was bad enough, but apparently his worst offense was that when asked by an interviewer what kind of a boss Trump is he answered “he knows what he’s doing” instead of the obligatory “he’s great, the best boss ever.” Other retaliatory firings, possibly of CIA Director Gina Haspel and FBI Director Chris Wray, are still expected, and the administrator responsible for the National Climate Assessment was already told to clear his desk. 

Meanwhile White House and campaign staffers got the message that they’ll be fired at the first sign of job search activity, even Fox News pulled away from a briefing where Kayleigh McEnany claimed that Democrats welcome election fraud, and Pfizer was accused of plotting against the president for not letting the good news about a COVID vaccine break before the election.  Pfizer’s CEO made clear that data were not earlier available and refuted Mike Pence’s claim that operation Warp Speed, from which no funding had been received, had produced the vaccine.

When he’s not playing golf Trump is sitting in the Oval Office, raging and ranting, ready to prove that he is the most dangerous national security threat to the US.  In one of his brighter moments the president indicated that he’s planning to run against Biden in 2024, which would at least be a sign that he understands that he has lost, and to secure a Trump dynasty in American politics Trump’s son Don Jr. and his current girlfriend are trying to get control of the RNC.

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