Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Competing explanations for the Arpaio pardon

In yesterday's post, I wrote about Trump's decision to pardon Joe Arpaio in terms of partisan attitudes towards the police, although I could just as easily have written about attitudes towards immigration.  I just decided to do something a little less obvious.  However, reading the general commentary, I am amazed at how many commentators are convinced that Trump is actively thinking about sending signals to anyone who might cooperate with the Russia investigation that he will pardon anyone who protects him.

There once was a man named, "Occam," and he had a sharp thingie.

All other things being equal, the simplest explanation tends to be correct.  Trump is not big on long-term strategic planning.

1)  Trump has a personal affinity for Arpaio, so he pardoned the guy.

2)  Trump wants to keep witnesses quiet, so he found some hick sheriff, and pardoned him to send a signal.  That way, even though the hick sheriff had little to do with Trump, those associated with the President will feel like there is some sort of reciprocal loyalty thing.

In what way does 2 make more sense as an explanation for Trump's behavior than 1?

I'm going with my good buddy, Occam, here.


  1. Replies
    1. Overdetermination requires multiple plausible explanations. Model 2 requires a long-term-strategist Trump.

    2. Not all that long-term. Russia/Mueller is on his mind a lot. Plenty of folks are arguing that if he tries to pardon his way out of this, he'll just be digging the hole deeper.

      I think it's plausible to think that Trump got feedback from within the White House on the pluses and minuses to doing this. He announced it on August 13 (but had apparently asked about doing so back in spring before he was convicted) then did it on Friday. So, is it insane to think that people gave him pros and cons after he floated the idea, and he simply added the pros to his thinking while ignoring the cons?

    3. Yeah, I actually think this is insane. If he was asking DoJ lawyers about this, or Sessions, or whoever, they weren't telling him anything about whether or not it would affect Russia witnesses. Even Jared is too moronic to think that way. Ditto Fredo.