If there is one thing that we have learned, it is that Donald Trump is a lousy dealmaker. Yesterday he announced with great fanfare his offer to open the government. Underwhelming would be too kind a description for what he came up with and it was rejected by the speaker Nancy Polosi in fairly contemptuous terms, designed to show him that what may have worked with other politicians will not work with her, a message that she set in motion when she met with him in the White House on December 11 and warned him publicly not to trigger the ‘Trump shutdown’.
“She’s not only outmanoeuvring him, she’s outraging him,” said Michael Cornfield, associate professor of political management at George Washington University in Washington. “She’s taunting him. She’s the matador, he’s the bull. He has no idea what he’s doing. He’s a genius of the publicity arts, not the political arts. In this he’s an absolute novice.”
It must have come as a shock to a man who has spent the past two years being surrounded by yes men and yes women, the latter including Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Sanders. Cornfield said: “We will look back on 11 December as the day he met his match. She has mastered two political skills he doesn’t even know he’s deficient in.
As the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times wrote explaining why the deal should be rejected:
Although it could be a starting point for real negotiations, it is not, at the moment, a deal worth taking. First and foremost, Trump has shown himself to be a completely unreliable negotiator, continually shifting positions and moving the goal posts; Democrats should ask to hear more before jumping at any offer. Beyond that, the courts have already provided some temporary protection for the Dreamers; Trump’s promise of a three-year shield from deportation isn’t much of an improvement, if any. And besides, Democrats shouldn’t bargain on border issues until the government reopens. Otherwise, they’d just be encouraging Trump to take the government hostage again the next time he wants something Congress won’t give him.
This is a recurring theme of this transactional president’s tenure: To try to coerce Congress into supporting something that much of the country doesn’t want, he manufactures a problem in the hope that it will strengthen his bargaining position. We’ve seen it again and again — the administration’s concerted efforts to undermine Obamacare, his threats to the North American Free Trade Agreement, the tariff wars he launched with much of the industrialized world, the DACA fiasco and now the longest government shutdown in the nation’s history.
The main problem for Trump is that he violates the basic premise of deal-making. If a deal is not based on legally binding contracts, then it depends on the parties trusting each other to do the right thing (the most common form) or that a party will suffer serious consequences if they betray that trust (the gang ethos). Trump has shown repeatedly throughout his life that he simply cannot be trusted to keep his end of any bargain, whether in business or in his personal life. He will say one thing, do the opposite, and then lie about it. So why would anyone take him at his word? Trump’s idea of deal making is to bluster and issue threats. But what Pelosi is showing is that she considers him her equal in political status and inferior in intellectual status and thus neither works on her.
But what must have surprised him is that his offer got brutally panned by the extreme right-wingers, the very people he is constantly trying to please and appease. That must hurt because they are the only ones he has in his corner now. He cannot afford to lose them. He has boxed himself and he must realize it. He is being shown as weak by Pelosi and he must know that his base will not like to see their alpha male hero figure being humiliated by a petite women who refers to his behavior as the temper tantrums of a child.
This shutdown is so serious that one cannot even laugh at his idiotic statements such as the one about the success of the wall in San Antonio. That city is 150 miles way from the border and has no wall. How can someone be so utterly clueless?