Partisanship means never having to say you’re sorry


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On the roster: Partisanship means never having to say you’re sorry - Trump plans 10 rallies in final week of campaign - Dems make another ad push to help Menendez - Audible: Aiiiight - BBQ logistics are the best logistics 

PARTISANSHIP MEANS NEVER HAVING TO SAY YOU’RE SORRY 
Economist Ben Ho has devoted his professional career to the question of the value of an apology. 

It may sound like a funny thing for an economist to do, but as his recent research for Uber on apologizing to customers who had bad rides shows, the question of how to say you’re sorry can mean real money.

Businesses care about apologies and their efficacy because customer loyalty is paramount in our highly individualized economy. Lyft is there to scoop up every unhappy Uber rider. 

Ho, who teaches at Vassar College, was featured on a recent “Freakonomics” podcast talking about his research that involved analyzing data from 1.5 million Uber riders who had bad trips. Ho and his fellow found that apologies that do not come with a cost are essentially meaningless. 

In the Uber experiment, the cost was economic: a discount on future rides. The research showed that riders who got an apology and a voucher didn’t just avoid the drop-off in usage of those who got apologies alone, but actually saw an increase in their use of the service. 

But between human beings, we can’t just slip $5 to folks when we apologize and tell them that they can go buy themselves a latte when we apologize. For interpersonal relationships, Ho describes other kinds of apologies that come with a cost. 

There is a “status apology” in which one embarrasses oneself in saying “sorry.” As Ho put it, “Admit your own incompetence and you beg for forgiveness by sort of making yourself look dumb.”

Another cost can be forgoing mercy in the future. Ho calls this a commitment apology. This is when you say not only will you not make the same mistake again, but that you accept a higher standard and deeper consequences if you fail again.

It doesn’t take a team of economists to know that words paired with actions are more significant than words alone. But there’s also research to suggest that apologies that include explanations may be worse than no apology at all. 

Karen Cerulo, a sociologist at Rutgers University, was part of the same episode. She and a colleague studied 183 celebrity apologies offered between 2000 and 2012. They did their best to control for variables, but tried to determine which apologies had been successful in winning public forgiveness and image rehabilitation, and which had not.

The answer was that with apologies, simple, direct and absolute was the way to go. “The why of what you did is less important to people than your regret and your remorse,” she said. 

There are lots of reasons why we do the wrong things and many of the deepest hurts we cause are unintentional, but offering context interferes with the intended recipient’s ability to hear us and our remorse. 

You can’t explain a joke, and neither can you explain an apology.

What’s encouraging here is that we have strong evidence that an apology sincerely rendered and delivered at some cost to the guilty party really can work. They can help us heal and move past old hurts. 

America’s partisans owe each other some pretty profound apologies. Dishonesty, invective, questioning of motives, fearmongering and cynically false attacks have become the norm. We live in a time of low-rent, digital demagoguery.

Leaders in both parties are now willing to admit that this rotten rhetoric and disingenuous approach is taking us to the brink of something frightening. 

Whether it is the mail bomb scare targeting prominent Democrats this week or the attack on Republican lawmakers practicing baseball last year or any of the increasingly frequent mob scenes that confront officials in public, we’re in a bad place. And there’s no doubt that the way we talk to each other is making it worse.

But the bad news is that they’re still not willing to apologize. Invariably, when these events come to pass, partisans start by placing blame on the other side. It’s craven, but it is a safer course to take, they think, than accepting blame for the wrongs done in their names. 

The greatest apology, of course, is owed to the citizens who find themselves forced to navigate this open sewer of a public space. All of the cynicism, dishonesty and over-heated rhetoric works in exciting the passions of those who are either gullible or equally cynical. But for those folks just trying to make their way through this wonderful, complicated, challenging life, our politicians are making things so much worse. 

We all wonder where the tipping point is. What will it take to get partisans to pull back from the brink? The answer is maddeningly obvious: It will require an act so terrible and so obviously inspired by partisan rhetoric that someone is forced to finally accept their share of the blame. 

We hear plea after plea for civility but we never hear a sincere apology. We hear excuse after excuse, but never the taking of responsibility. Partisans are quick on the draw to find instances of someone on the other side doing wrong but never seem to quite remember the misdeeds on their own side. 

A real apology would be direct, specific and unequivocal. And it would come with a cost. “I am sorry for what I said and did. I failed in my obligations to you as a leader. I expect you to hold me to a higher standard going forward so I can better avoid repeating these mistakes.” No “but you did it first” or “I’ll stop when you stop.” Just straight grown-up stuff.

It would be a balm to a hate-weary polity and might make a hero of the man or woman brave enough to offer it.

But until voters refuse to accept such hogwash as most of our political leaders have been serving, we will continue to get more of the same. As long as elected officials can get away with calling for unity in one breath and attacking their rivals in the next, we will be consigned to stay in this place.

We’re sorry to be the ones to tell you…

THE RULEBOOK: IN HOPES THEY KNOW THE DIFFERENCE 
“It may perhaps be said that the power of preventing bad laws includes that of preventing good ones; and may be used to the one purpose as well as to the other.” –Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 73

TIME OUT: *BOO*
Time: “Scary movies, haunted houses and other spooky activities send some people running, while others can’t get enough. But what’s actually going on in the brains of fear-loving folks? Less than you might think, according to a study recently published in the journal Emotion. After having a voluntary scary experience, the researchers found, people were in better moods and had decreased brain activity overall. ‘We think it’s very similar, at least at a physiological and neurological level, to the runner’s high experience, where you’re really pushing yourself and your sympathetic nervous system is in go-mode,’ explains study co-author Margee Kerr, a sociologist at the University of Pittsburgh who studies fear. Once you’re out of the scary situation — one where there was never any real threat to begin with — feel-good endorphins course through the body, she says. ‘It is a reprioritizing of energy, of focus into the body. You’re grounded, not being caught up in thinking.’”

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SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval:
 43 percent
Average disapproval: 52.4 percent
Net Score: -9.4 points
Change from one week ago: down 0.2 points 
[Average includes: NPR/PBS/Marist: 41% approve - 53% disapprove; USA Today/Suffolk: 43% approve - 54% disapprove; Gallup: 44% approve - 50% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 45% approve - 52% disapprove; CBS News: 42% approve - 53% disapprove.]

Control of House
Republican average: 
41.6 percent
Democratic average: 50.6 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 9 points
Change from one week ago: Democratic advantage up 0.4 points  
[Average includes: NPR/PBS/Marist: 50% Dems - 40% GOP; USA Today/Suffolk: 51% Dems - 43% GOP; NBC/WSJ: 50% Dems - 41% GOP; Fox News: 49% Dems - 42% GOP; ABC/WaPo: 53% Dems - 42% GOP.]

TRUMP PLANS 10 RALLIES IN FINAL WEEK OF CAMPAIGN
WashEx: “President Trump is ramping up his involvement in the midterm campaign, planning at least ten rallies in the six days before Election Day. In the last few weeks, Trump has been hitting the campaign trail four nights a week for Republican candidates and engaging with the media on a near daily basis. Republican strategists have hailed Trump's increasingly active involvement in the elections. Other presidents, they point out, might have sought to keep their party at arm's length because it traditionally loses a slew of seats at this point in the political cycle. GOP leaders are optimistic about the impact Trump will have on the midterm elections, arguing his presence on the trail could energize the party base and perhaps change the course of the election.”

Trump supporters stick out the rain for Charlotte rally - Charlotte Observer: “The wet aftermath of Hurricane Willa drenched Charlotte overnight, but that didn’t keep devoted followers of President Donald Trump from lining up a day early for his rally at Bojangles Coliseum. Coliseum officials say the first of them showed up at 3 p.m. Thursday, despite the fact that … The coliseum holds 9,500 people, and the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority predicts every seat — and parking space — will be full. The president is campaigning on behalf of 9th District House candidate Mark Harris. … One man outside the coliseum told TV station WSOC that he made a hobby of attending Trump rallies and had spent an estimated $25,000 in the process.”

Bloomberg ponies up another $43 million for Dems - WaPo: “Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, plowed $43 million into super PACs supporting Democrats in the first two weeks of October, a sign of his intensifying political influence in the final stretch of the midterms as he secures his place among the top three donors this election. Bloomberg, who this month announced he has registered as a Democrat, divided the $43 million between his super PAC Independence USA and the Senate Majority PAC, which works to elect Democrats to the Senate, Federal Election Commission records filed Thursday night show. Bloomberg is weighing a potential 2020 presidential bid and has pledged up to $100 million in support of Democrats this cycle, saying he was frustrated with inaction in Congress under Republican leadership and that a divided government would be more effective in legislating.”

It’s a top House race, but where’s the candidate? - Charleston [W. Va.] Gazette Mail: “Before making it to a meet-and-greet event for Delegate Carol Miller on Sunday, voters drove past a massive inflatable that appeared to be a mix between a fat, red cat and Satan on the side of the road that held a ‘Miller supports opioids’ sign. They walked past reporters, who were removed from what was billed as a public event, and into the Logan Country Club to hear Miller make her best case for why she should be a congresswoman. On her way out, Miller, R-Cabell, briefly described herself to reporters. ‘I’m pro-coal. I’m pro-business, I’m pro one-nation-under-God. Does that help you?’ she said. … Miller’s aversion to the public spotlight is nothing new. She has avoided debates, town halls and the news media in general throughout the campaign. In just the past two weeks, Miller has declined interview requests from the Gazette-Mail, WV MetroNews, WSAZ-TV, and Buzzfeed News.”

DEMS MAKE ANOTHER AD PUSH TO HELP MENENDEZ
Politico: “A Democratic super PAC aligned with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is making another big ad buy in New Jersey to help Sen. Bob Menendez in a state that would normally be a lay-up for them. Recent polls have shown Menendez, a 12-year incumbent, leading Republican Bob Hugin by anywhere from two to 12 percentage points. Senate Majority PAC’s $2.8 million ad buy, announced Thursday, indicates Democrats have at least some concern about the race. The group announced a $3 million ad buy just last week. Hugin, meanwhile, continues to spend big on the race. In the last week, he’s given his campaign another $3.5 million, bringing his total self-funding to $27.5 million — the vast majority of what his campaign has raised.”

The race for Texas Senate hits $100 million - Dallas Morning News: “The cost of a U.S. Senate seat from Texas has never been higher, and Rep. Beto O'Rourke's insurgent bid to topple Sen. Ted Cruz has now attracted $70 million as the El Paso Democrat keeps setting new national records. The Democrat's latest campaign report, filed early Friday with the Federal Election Commission, showed he brought in nearly $8.5 million from Oct. 1 to 17, padding a tally that was already the most of for any Senate candidate anywhere, ever. Cruz has raised $29.7 million since early 2017, when O'Rourke joined the race, though dating his fund-raising to the end of 2012, after he won his seat, Cruz has brought in $40.5 million for this election cycle. O'Rourke spent $21 million in the first half of October and still had $10.3 million in the bank as of Oct. 17. Cruz spent $9.7 million so far this month, and entered the final stretch with $6.7 million.”

McCaskill, Hawley fight over civility - St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “With political tension running high heading into the final 10 days of the nation’s midterm elections, the candidates for Missouri’s pivotal U.S. Senate race issued a call for civility. But during an hourlong debate Thursday in Kansas City, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, the potentially endangered Missouri Democrat, did not relent in her criticism of President Donald Trump, who she said knowingly spreads false information to gain political points. ‘I don’t like it that he lies all the time. I don’t get why he feels the need to do that,’ McCaskill said. And her opponent, Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley, said Democrats were ginning up ideas of violence in response to the GOP being in control in Washington. ‘I think we need to send a clear signal that rhetoric that encourages confrontation and violence is not acceptable,’ Hawley said.”

Heitkamp got cash bump after Kavanaugh vote - The Hill: “Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) raised more than $12 million in the first 17 days of October for her reelection bid to the United States Senate. A filing from Heitkamp's campaign filed on Thursday showed that the Democratic senator raised about $12.4 million in contributions in the first half of the month, which HuffPost's Kevin Robillard noted on Twitter. The figure represents a significant surge in campaign funding, as net contributions for the entire election cycle show she's raised $26.7 million, per the new FEC filing.”


POLL CHECK 
Senate

Montana: Jon Tester* (D) 49% vs. Matt Rosendale (R) 39% - University of Montana

House
CA-10: Jeff Denham* (R) 45% vs. Josh Harder (D) 47% - NYT

CA-49: Diane Harkey (R) 39% vs. Mike Levin (D) 53% - NYT

NJ-03: Tom MacArthur* (R) 45% vs. Andy Kim (D) 44% - NYT

OH-01: Steve Chabot* (R) 50% vs. Aftab Pureval (D) 41% - NYT

TX-07: John Culberson* (R) 46% vs. Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (D) 45% - NYT

MT-01: Greg Gianforte (R) 45% vs. Kathleen Williams (D) 46% - University of Montana

*Indicates incumbent

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Check out this fact check piece on Kamala Harris’s jobs claims - WaPo

AUDIBLE: AIIIIGHT 
“And as the young people say, ‘I ain’t scared.’” – Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., in her video response on Thursday after she was targeted by a homemade mail bomb.

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY 
This weekend Chris Wallace will sit down with Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, and Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.”  Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.

#mediabuzz - Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Chris, Thoroughly enjoy the Halftime Report’s objectivity and perspective. As a veteran, I’m very concerned about the plan for Active/Reserve members to ‘stop’ the caravan and protect US sovereignty. Anyone should understand that physically harming any member of the caravan would be catastrophic from an optics point of view. But...as we saw at Mexico’s southern border, the group man-handled their way through the resistance to their passage. This one looks frightening from all sides.” – Gary Graupmann, San Marcos, Calif.

[Ed. note: These are dangerous days, Mr. Graupmann. One thing on which I rely, though, is on the professionalism, ethicality and decency of our armed forces. And thank you for your service.]

“I have a question about the straight party vote option on ballots.  When did this originate?  Do you think things would be different if people didn't have that option on the ballot?  I know it is probably for convenience purposes, but having to learn about each candidate would make voters more informed.  The flip side is a lot of people will just fill in the R or D no matter.  Just curious as to your thoughts on it.” – Jeff Cox, Broken Arrow, Okla.

[Ed. note: We’re down to eight states that allow straight-ticket voting, including yours, Mr. Cox. The move against the practice started in earnest 30 years ago and since then more than a dozen states abolished the practice. You’ve exactly summed up the arguments for each. Having straight ticket voting is more convenient, but it also allows the kind of thoughtless partisanship that party bosses love. Interestingly, despite the demise of straight-ticket voting in most of the country, the actual number of straight tickets – manually completed race by race – has increased.] 

Share your color commentary: Email us at
HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

BBQ LOGISTICS ARE THE BEST LOGISTICS 
Egypt Independent: “Every day, social media throws in our way countless ideas: the good, the bad, the ugly, and the downright crazy. Some very unexpected ideas also sometimes work, which was the case for American University in Cairo student Sarah Abou El Khair. Abou El Khair suggested to NASA to hold an immense barbecue, under the fire of each rocket launch, in an attempt to help solve world hunger. She took the idea to Instagram, tagging NASA, and the space agency loved it. …Abou El Khair’s idea was simple: put a giant grill with a huge amount of chicken and meat under the rocket before it launches, and when it launches, the heat emitted from the rocket should be enough to grill all this meat – or as she called it in her story, ‘giant BBQ party!!’ Abou El Khair went on to detail the benefits of her idea: it could end world hunger, save energy, help NASA go green, make its employees happy… Abou El Khair got a reply from NASA, who wrote, ‘we think this is a genius idea, and we loved it so much that we decided to invite you to our next launch, and maybe discuss some BBQ logistics.’”            

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“It’s the tweets, of course. Trump sees them as a direct, ‘unfiltered’ conduit to the public. What he doesn’t quite understand is that for him — indeed, for anyone — they are a direct conduit from the unfiltered id. They erase whatever membrane normally exists between one’s internal disturbances and their external manifestations.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on June 8, 2017.  

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.