Behold the Art of the Deal

So this happened.

President Trump slammed his hand on a table and stormed out of a White House meeting with congressional leaders on Wednesday after Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said she would not fund a wall along the southern border, dramatically escalating the confrontation over the government shutdown.

Stunned Democrats emerged from the White House meeting declaring that Mr. Trump had thrown a “temper tantrum.” The president’s allies accused Democrats of refusing to negotiate. Then he tweeted that the meeting was “a total waste of time.”

Yeah, you’d think after his masterful performance speaking to the nation last night the Dems would be ready to cave. (/sarcasm)

One of Trump’s many shortcomings that this episode has revealed is that he doesn’t grasp the concept of leverage. The only leverage he has is over Republicans who fear the wrath of his base. Over Democrats, he has none, according to the polls.

This is from the nerds at FiveThirtyEight – Trump Has Lost Ground In The Shutdown Blame Game.

Look at the polling data, and you can see why Trump (or his advisers) thought a high-profile move like a national address was needed. We’re currently on Day 19 of the shutdown, but Trump’s efforts to pin the blame on Democrats aren’t working, according to three pollsters who have conducted at least two polls in the two and a half weeks since the government first closed. Rather, polls show that Americans are increasingly blaming Trump.

The bag of tricks he employed as a real estate grifter isn’t helping him now.

President Trump has long said that keeping opponents off balance is the best way to win a negotiation. But nearly three weeks into a partial government shutdown, his usual playbook doesn’t seem to be working.

In his fight for a section of border wall, the president has dispatched aides to negotiate with lawmakers only to undercut their offers. He has declared a “crisis” at the U.S.-Mexico border but abruptly dropped a talking point about an influx of terrorists after it was proved false. And he has vacillated between threatening to declare a national emergency and professing to prefer a negotiated deal with Democrats.

On Wednesday, a day after delivering a prime-time Oval Office address to add gravitas to his public appeal, Trump abruptly walked out of a private meeting with lawmakers at the White House.

A “total waste of time,” Trump fumed on Twitter, lending credence to Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer’s accusations that the president is prone to “temper tantrums” when he doesn’t get his way.

Trump’s approach is a hallmark of a president who eschews strategic planning and preparation in favor of day-to-day tactical maneuvering and trusting his gut. But as he digs in against an emboldened Democratic opposition, Trump has found that his go-to arsenal of bluster, falsehoods, threats and theatrics has laid bare his shortcomings as a negotiator — preventing him from finding a way out of what may be the biggest political crisis of his presidency.

Apparently storming out of meetings is a trick that has worked for him in the past.

But, according to Jay Goldberg, who was Trump’s lawyer from 1989 to 2014 and handled two of his divorces, the president has reason to believe that walking out could be effective.

“He crafted that approach, it’s one he owns,” Goldberg said. “He has a tendency to argue, and if he is not satisfied he will leave the room, disappear, doesn’t come back and the people are on edge wondering where he is. And then when he feels it is the appropriate time he comes back.”

Goldberg said that Trump once attended a protracted meeting to reach a divorce settlement with his first wife, Ivana Trump. After hours of talks, he disagreed with the amount of alimony she wanted, and the two sides couldn’t agree. So Trump stood up and left.

“Everyone was looking for him because without his presence a deal couldn’t be done and he was gone for two hours and we didn’t know where he was,” Goldberg said. “When he came back, the other side was so concerned if they didn’t make a deal he would walk away again.”

In this case the walking out worked, because Ivana really did want a divorce. But Trump’s walking out had no effect on Pelosi and Schumer because he has no leverage. The only thing Pelosi and Schumer want from him now is for him to back down on the bleeping wall and allow the government to open. He’s backtracked on “deals” they thought they had with him too many times to trust him. And he hasn’t offered them anything.

Some GOP senators recognize that Trump needs help with the deal making thing and are trying to come up with one.

According to CNN, just after Trump’s abrupt departure, GOP senators — including Lindsey Graham, Lisa Murkowski, and Susan Collins — met in Graham’s office to discuss a path out of the second longest shutdown in U.S. history. The crew discussed a deal that would include Trump’s preferred $5.7 billion for the border wall, with a heap of policies that would encourage Democrats to sign on to get to the 60 votes needed, including the preservation of DACA, a change to H2B visas, and a boost to the Temporary Protected Status program, which allows nationals from crisis-affected countries to work and live in the United States for up to 18 months.

The group of senators then sent the idea to Trump adviser Jared Kushner, who believed that if he presented a plan that included the wall money that could pass in the Senate, his father-in-law would consider the deal. And according to NBC News, the president seemed amenable to putting DACA in the negotiating mix.

It’s possible Democrats would take that deal. However, that was yesterday, and I haven’t heard any more about it. Meanwhile the Creature has taken his one-man dog and pony show — no dog, no pony, just show — to McAllen, Texas, where residents are asking, “What crisis?” And he’s still making noises about declaring a national emergency, which I suspect would only dump us even deeper into consitutional crisis territory.


Trump, in reality, was never a peerless or even a particularly skillful dealmaker, and many of the most significant business transactions he engineered imploded. Instead, he made his way in the world as an indefatigable self-promoter, a marketing confection and a human billboard who frequently licensed his name to buildings and products paid for by others.

In Trump’s professional life, his inept dealmaking often came home to roost in unmanageable debts and serial bankruptcies. In his more recent political and presidential life it has revealed itself through bungled, hapless efforts to overturn the Affordable Care Act; forge a nuclear agreement with North Korea; wage trade wars with China, Mexico and Canada; retain control of the House of Representatives; turn military and diplomatic strategy on its head; lay siege to sensible immigration policy; and, now, force a government shutdown to secure funding for a prized project — a wall along the U.S.’s southern border.

He just had a press conference that demonstrated how out of his depth he is.

Over the course of roughly 15 minutes, Trump poured scorn on several groups of people — including Democrats, the media, and undocumented immigrants. For the second-straight day, he also undercut the case he’s trying to make that the situation at the border warrants a national emergency declaration.

Democrats, according to Trump, don’t give a damn about crime or about evil people with knives cutting people up. And they’re crazy.

“They’ve been taken over by a group of young people, who frankly, in some cases, I’ve been watching, I actually think they’re crazy,” he said. “They have been taken over by a group of people that don’t care about gangs, they don’t care about human trafficking and drugs — they don’t care about anything.”

Trump also showed off his skills at press relations.

Asked by a reporter to specify at which point in history he thinks a crisis on the southern border began, Trump instead went on the attack against the press.

“Look, you can all play cute, and I’d say 80 percent of you are possibly in cooperation with the opposition party,” Trump said. “I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous.”

Trump singled out NBC. At one point, seemingly out of nowhere, he described the network as “maybe the most dishonest reporters of all time.”

So now he’s floundering around trying to act tough to please his base. That’s really all that he wants; to get something so he can brag to his base. He has no end game. He has no clue what he is doing.


Share Button