Days of Change

Downwind of Culture | October 9, 2017

If you were to coin the phrase “Breitbarting,” to define what Andrew Breitbart did, it could refer to taking hidden camera footage and then rolling it out slowly, to blow up the fallacy of the “isolated incident” excuse. However, Andrew was about more than that. He had some awesome interviews with leftist media, bringing up their failings. He even destroyed a hit piece before his “Big Hollywood” site opened, by actually asking for the tape they tried to use to prove Breitbart said what they quoted. The tape never materialized and the quote was retracted.

Although what little we know about Breitbart’s opinion on Donald Trump was negative, mostly due to the fact that Trump has been a Democrat for decades, he is certainly Breitbarting the media. He’s also following Breitbart.com, the outlet for Steve Bannon’s war on an increasing share of the Republican Congress. Andrew famously said that politics is downstream from culture, which means that cultural icons in the media affect how most people define political differences. At the same time, Andrew also sought Republican victories and made efforts not to attack Republicans who had already won elections.

Speaking of culture, I’ve recently become interested in the book Moneyball. While the movie was good entertainment, it was twisted into an Aaron Sorkin reality where the general manager had to overcome everyone else to prove he was right. The actual story focuses on Billy Beane, a player turned scout for the Oakland Athletics who adopted the principles of sabermetrics early on and used them to great success in the early 2000’s.

It turns out that what makes a good baseball player isn’t always what a scout or a team uses to pick one. Not only did Oakland have to develop new stats to find qualities that won games, they also had to find the best bang for their buck. Oakland has one of the smallest budgets in baseball and finding bargains with solid skills was the key to success against teams with 4 times the budget.

The Trump administration is essentially a test of using Moneyball thinking in the political realm. Trump won the election and between his campaign and outside groups, spent half the money of the Clinton campaign. Winning the presidency is important as a defensive play, but did Republicans get the proper bang for their buck?

So far, Trump has taken executive action and nominated a conservative Justice who was confirmed by the Senate. In Moneyball terms, he was able to get on base or win the election. Any other Republican would have done what Trump did legislatively, but was anyone other than Trump able to win?

This is something of an intangible and the sample size is limited to Donald Trump alone. Trump is skewering the sacred cows of liberalism and globalism on a daily basis. He is a culture warrior. Of course, showiness and bravado also makes for high-cost baseball players who underperform. We may need new metrics to figure out how well this worked.

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