Any analysis of Donald Trump’s career as a self-described master of “the art of the deal,” shows a remarkable absence of anything anyone would call a “win-win.”
Like most compulsive bullies, Trump is only interested in negotiations he can sum-up with, “I win; you shut up!”
This approach works under only 3 conditions:
- when the “deal” is with corruptible politicians who rely on silence to hide their shameful acquiescence;
- when the deal is backed by the power of organized crime;
- and when the “other party” to the arrangement is vastly weaker than the dictator of its terms.
These conditions rarely prevail in the kinds of deals Presidents get to make.
Even if the politicians on Capitol Hill are as mercenary as those Trump dealt with at Brooklyn Borough Hall, or New York City Hall or the various political precincts of New Jersey, where he plied his nefarious trades for 4 decades, they draw more and better scrutiny. Even if the pre-deal sausage-making arrangements between Federal office-holders and Presidents can be kept secret, the terms of the final legislation or policy will attract published or broadcast post-deal analysis.
Thus, the offers a President makes to legislators or heads of state can never be so unequal as to embarrass them.
In the ninth month of his term, President Trump still hasn’t bothered to figure this out.
Even relative transparency can force responsibility onto Senators and Representatives or foreign leaders and make them resist the will of a stronger Chief Executive.
President Trump’s trademark zero-sum deals translate in the closely-reported world of Washington to no deals: no repeal or replacement of Obamacare; no tax “reform,” no wall on the Mexican border.
No way most American legislators or foreign Presidents can sign their names, attach their legacies, to the one-sided proposals Trump tosses their way.
President Trump’s bullying bluster may sometimes be rewarded with headlines but never with successful agreements. Take his hectoring of the athletes of the NFL and NBA. Their quiet demonstrations against racism in America, the locked arms of teammate solidarity supporting those “taking a knee” during the National Anthem, have been winning growing public respect, even as approval ratings for Trump shrivel.
The dignity of the President’s athletic adversaries is as visible as his depravity.
And speaking of which, the more people see of the Mueller investigation, the clearer the final score of that game becomes.
Donald Trump, here’s the deal. You’re dead meat! Your rump-steak will be out of the White House before the end of 2019. Your brand and family will be burnt to a crisp.
And though this may be a loss for you, but it will be a win-win for America and the world.