The legendary baseball manager Casey Stengel is reported to have said, “Can’t anybody here play this game”, in reference to the abysmal performance of the 1962 New York Mets. That became the name of a book by Jimmy Breslin telling the story of that season.
After reading of Rob Pincus’ experiences yesterday at the preliminaries of the NRA Board Meeting, the Stengel quote was the first thing that came to mind.
After checking in at the security desk around 12:30pm, Rob was removed from the meeting area…. not a meeting room, not from trying to steal a free lunch with the Directors… from the entire meeting area at the hotel. He was at first told that he could not come back until Saturday Morning for the main Board Meeting. After challenging that he believed that Members were allowed to attend Committee Meetings, security relented and said he could return at 1:30 on the afternoon, but would not provide any details about what committees were meeting or in which specific rooms.
Rob returned to the meeting area at 1:30pm, the scheduled time for the Legal Affairs Committee. He was greeted by the same security supervisor that escorted him out of the area less than an hour before. He was told specifically where to sit in the room… and a security guard at next to him.
It only gets worse in Rob’s own words.
“The thing that is bothering me right now: NRA claims 5 million Members. Members are ostensibly allowed to attend these meetings. Social media is on fire in regard to the crisis at the organization. There was only one committee meeting this afternoon, one of the most important ones, the Legal Affairs Committee.
There were less than 10 empty chairs in the room and I was basically given a personal security escort. The NRA wasn’t prepared for Members to attend, nor did they appear to want Members to attend.
After the meeting went into Executive Session, I went to the Secretary’s Office adjacent to the meeting room to request a schedule of the meetings scheduled for the next day and, as the staffer was writing them down for me, Security showed up and told me I needed to leave. Rudely. They would not even let the staffer provide me with the information. At that point, NRA Director Robert Brown came over to see what was going on and Security insisted that I leave the entire meeting area forcing the Director to walk out into the hallway to finish his conversation with me. Security was smug and increasingly aggressive as the short moment went on.”
This is NOT how to play the game. All it does is show fear and you never want to show fear.
Here is how it should have gone.
“Mr. Pincus, thank you for registering and attending. We rarely get members coming to these meetings. We are glad to have you here.”
“Here is a list of the committee meeting and times. Which committee meeting did you want to attend first? Oh, the Legal Affairs Committee? Bob (big security guard) here will show you how to get there. The room is somewhat out of the way.”
When the Legal Affairs Committee went into Executive Session, the Chairman should have said, “Mr. Pincus, we are going into Executive Session to discuss (whatever). I hate to do this but I’m going to have to ask you to leave the room. If you’ll head to the Secretary’s desk, I’m sure that they will be happy to point you to other committees. We really do hope to see you again tomorrow at the Board Meeting.”
The proper way to have done all of this was to kill Rob with kindness. Butter should not have melted in their mouths. Even if Rob was aggressive, which I don’t think he was, your goal was to disarm him with politeness.
Treating Rob like some interloper who had dog shit on his shoes was stupid. All it did was show fear and weakness which is the last thing any organization should want to do.
Whoever decided that this was the way to treat Rob or any NRA member who shows up to the meeting deserves to be fired. Immediately if not sooner. It was stupid, it was counterproductive, it was bullying, and it creates more bad PR and attention for the NRA at a time when they can least afford it.