Milley, the Recall, and the Overplayed Hand

I’m usually good for creative titles, but that’ll have to suffice. The hour is late.

General Milley

He should resign.

Let’s not downplay the context. From many people’s perspective including Miley’s, the President of the United States had gone off the deep end in rage over the election. He had all sorts of crazy people around him. The pillow guy seemed to be urging marshal law and deploying the military around the nation, among other things.

I’m sure there was someone somewhere in the bowels of crazy thinking if a war started Trump would have reason to not leave office.

But Milley bypassed the civilian chain of command. He took his concerns to the communist government of China. He offered to tell him if his commander in chief ordered an attack.

When Secretary Mattis, formerly General Mattis, vehemently disagreed with President Trump, he chose the honorable path of resigning. Milley, when not even confronted with an order with which he disagreed, but with him mind games rushing to worst case scenarios, dishonorably chose to bypass the constitutional proposition of civilian military control.

This is unacceptable and he should resign. Milley has shown himself to be a politician more than a military strategist. I welcome the Democrats making him the fall guy for Afghanistan.

The California Recall

It is hard to explain to people who have not run campaigns before how staying on message matters. People assume the media can steer your message, but they can only steer it if you let them. The moment the California recall became Newsom v. Elder, Newsom won it. It didn't have to be.

Yes, the media wanted to make it all about Larry Elder, but Elder and conservatives helped. They should have stayed off Fox News. When the media made accusations, the response could have been, "This recall is about Newsom's failure to lead, not me."

When the issues come up and the media asks the candidates what they stand for or what they'll do differently, again, they make the indictment on Newsom. "Gavin Newsom kept people locked up at home while he was out at restaurants. He made your kids mask up while his kids didn't. He treated the elite of California differently from the rest of California. I won't do that."

By allowing the media to steer it to a Newsom v. Particular Candidate, the media was able to shape the contrasts. Again, if you're not in campaigns, you think that is inevitably going to happen. But smart campaigns know how to deflect back on message. The Elder campaign couldn’t help but ride the conservative free media wave. Newsom made sure his voters knew it. Newsom made sure his voters knew Elder would go on Fox, but bypass mainstream California news outlets.

The message was always "this is about Newsom." But about a month or so ago, it stopped being about Newsom and started being about his replacement. His replacement could not resist but take the bait. The polls thereafter shifted into Newsom's favor. You have to feel a bit bad for Kevin Falconer who made it his mission to take out Newsom, patiently made the case for the recall, stayed in the shadows to make it about Newsom only to thereby be overshadowed by a candidate who thought maximum exposure would help.

Overplaying Their Hand

Democrats are already privately whispering that Newsom is a model for them going forward in fighting COVID. Both parties love to overplay their hands. Look for Democrats to suddenly embrace draconian measures to fight COVID. They’ll think since Newsom fought off a recall, it’ll work for them too. Except only 45% of Californians favored Newsom’s actions. His actions won’t work in other states.

Meanwhile, Republicans will keep capitalizing on the hypocrisy of politicians limiting gatherings and mandating masks while ignoring their own rules. Republicans may not be able to win statewide in California, but the Democrats will trip themselves up elsewhere by embracing too much of Newsom’s strategies to fight COVID.