Obenski: When defense makes one great offense

There is a story about a pro football team that was not doing well. In desperation the coach hired a psychologist to inspire the players into doing better.

Instead, the psychologist inspected the locker room. After the inspection he told the coach certain players should be on Offense and others defense. The coach was not receptive, but out of desperation tried the changes. The team began winning.


Why did this work? The psychologist noticed that some players lockers were usually neat and orderly and some were usually a mess. He also noticed that on offense, one has a plan and sticks with it or, if it’s not working, has another plan. Defense lives to break up plans. The defensive tactic then is to turn the offensive strategy into chaos any way they can. Disorder inevitably helps the defense on a level field. The orderly lockers represented players who preferred order and planning. The disheveled lockers showed a distain for order.

The same thing happens in a court of law.

The plaintiff or prosecutor comes to court with all his arguments neatly organized. Exhibits clearly labeled, scale diagrams, expert reports with every i dotted and every t crossed. The attorney has a script and so does every witness they can control. If their argument is perfect and not disrupted, they have a chance to win. The defense may have a plan to put up a counter argument, but the main defense strategy is to discredit the witnesses, ridicule the evidence. Interrupt constantly. An objection overruled is still an interruption. Anything to confuse the trier of fact. If the jury or judge is unable to arrive at a conclusion, then they have no choice but to rule for the defense.

In war, defense waits behind barricades. Offense plans an attack. Once the defense has observed the attack, they do what they can to disrupt. If the attackers have something new like the Trojan Horse, Joshua’s sappers that undermined the walls of Jericho, or Blitzkrieg, they may prevail.

In a normal election each party starts an offensive plan that can work. They know their own strengths and weaknesses, but so does the opposition. Praise your side, disparage the other. What an incumbent cannot know is a new opposition’s unheard-of Trojan Horse — Twitter.

Sixteen of 17 GOP candidates in 2016 played offense, with a plan to beat the incumbent, stick to it to win; they were well prepared with a century of party experience to back them up.

The incumbent party was well dug in, complacent and expecting to win handily. Every challenger had an aggressive plan to defeat the heir apparent. Suddenly, along came a bizarre challenger who, like a new disease, does not follow the rules, does not know the rules and does not care.

All the other challengers are playing traditional offense. He has no plan, but like a defense in football, he disrupts everyone’s planning and wisdom with random attacks on everything the others had counted on. Ignore decorum, ridicule everyone, discredit the media, disparage evidence. There is no effective counter tactic for chaos. The distinction between defense and offense is moot. He attacked anything that is remotely unpopular. Everyone with an ill-defined gripe against the establishment feels vindicated by him. He created an anti-anything plurality and won the position.

Now he is a defender but chaos is still his method of operation; playing a game without having read the rules on the inside of the box. Confusion is his specialty.

The offense goes after him, he has no experience to work with but it does not matter. His strategy is, classic legal defense, more confusion and contradiction. Unpredictable, because even he does not know what he will do next.


When he doesn’t get his way, he turns the game board over. A succession of babbling inept lawyers and talking heads spouting nonsense to confuse the public and obfuscate the inevitable prosecution. He just might get reelected!

Ken Obenski is a forensic engineer, now safety and freedom advocate in South Kona. He writes a biweekly column for West Hawaii Today. Send feedback to obenskik@gmail.com