Corey Lewandowski is one of those people you look at and wonder, "How is this guy employed, let alone running a major political campaign?"
Defending him is not easy, especially since his rise to prominence as campaign manager for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has brought with it countless reports of bad behavior on the campaign trail, and dozens of stories about distasteful behavior in the years before he became Trump's right-hand political man.
As a gadfly in his hometown of Windham, New Hampshire, Lewandowski annoyed people with an "uncharacteristically negative" brand of partisan politics, and got a board member fired for running a fantasy football league, according to a New York Times profile.
The New York Times charitably describes Lewandowski's style as an "in your face manner" coupled with "an insurgent style of politics." Gawker wasn't so kind, describing Trump's campaign manager as "New England’s answer to Sherlock Holmes, if Sherlock Holmes was a giant s------ who antagonized his neighbors and couldn’t even play the violin."
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A Politico profile of Lewandowski goes deeper, including interviews with people who say the national neophyte has a habit of being "sexually suggestive with female journalists," and is the kind of guy who won't hesitate to "profanely berate" a subordinate in front of a room full of co-workers.
When a small group of highly talented advisers left Team Trump, campaign staffers whispered anonymously to political reporters, pointing the blame at Lewandowski.
Lewandowski's professional record doesn't exactly scream winner, either. The last time he ran a campaign was in 2002 for Republican Sen. Bob Smith of New Hampshire, who lost the election and became "the first sitting senator in either party to lose a primary campaign in a decade," according to Politico.
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Defending him isn't easy.
But police and prosecutors have a duty to look at the facts of a case and judge them fairly, even when the alleged perpetrator is apparently a world-class jackwagon who's been rubbing people the wrong way for decades.
For those who need a refresher, Lewandowski was charged with battery for grabbing the arm of Michelle Fields. At the time, Fields was a reporter who worked for Breitbart, a conservative alternative media site.
Fields alleged Lewandowski was rough with her, grabbing her so hard that he left bruises on her arm. It's not a stretch to believe her story, with what we know about Lewandowski and the way he treats people, but anyone who looks at the video objectively would agree that it's difficult to tell exactly what happened.
That's the problem with video. The camera never lies, as the old saying goes, but anyone who watches sports knows that the same play can look radically different from a multitude of angles. When an NBA player drives the lane and draws a foul, or an MLB batter slides into second base, we get the benefit of multiple clear shots from an array of high-definition, professionally operated cameras. With the Lewandowski-Fields situation, we get one or two grainy videos from fixed positions, with the main subjects obscured behind a sea of other people.
The question is, does grabbing someone's arm constitute battery? As the prosecutor, Palm Beach County State Attorney David Aronberg, told Politico, “We have a higher standard to go forward with a prosecution" than police have to charge the embattled campaign manager with battery.
Or, in the words of another attorney, "If you asked people to describe a battery, this certainly wouldn't cut it."
“Not every minor interaction needs to go to court. Time for everyone to chill out,” said Miami criminal defense lawyer David Oscar Markus. “[Republican former Gov.] Jeb Bush [of Florida] has a better claim for battery against Trump after those debates than this reporter does against Lewandowski.”
We can argue all day about whether Lewandowski should be fired, or whether he has any business managing a political campaign, but that's Trump's decision. Likewise, Lewandowski, Trump and their confederates at Breitbart -- who sided with Trump's campaign over their own alleged journalist -- were pretty despicable in the way they described Fields in the days and weeks after the incident. Voters will ultimately decide whether to punish the Trump campaign for that.
But in this case, prosecutors made a sound and sane decision in resisting political pressure and sticking to the law. Lewandowski might not be a likable guy, but that doesn't mean he committed a crime.