Monday, April 17, 2017

President Non-Negotiable

I love to hear right wing types boast on how much President Blameless has accomplished.

We haven't seen too much in the way of deals. As a matter of fact, we haven't seen any deals, at least not any of consequence. Is it possible that Donald Trump was never such a great dealmaker in the first place?

That's one way to look at it. Trump has made some lucrative deals; in fact, in recent years his company has been increasingly dependent on licensing deals, in which he sells the rights to use his name to a developer putting up an apartment building or a resort in some far-flung locale.

His particular style of dealmaking often involved seeing how he could get over on people dumb enough to trust him. As he has made amply clear, he has a zero-sum worldview about nearly everything: Either you're getting screwed, or you're the one doing the screwing. In some contexts, it works. Trump could shaft a piano supplier, safe in the knowledge that the guy was just a small business owner who wouldn't have the means to fight him. That left him with a bunch of free pianos, and if he ever needed any more, he could get them from somebody else who wasn't aware that Trump was likely to stiff him on the deal.

When you bring that approach to politics, you find that things don't work quite the same way. You can launch Trump University, scam the customers, and then move on to the next group of suckers (until the courts catch up with you, that is). But in politics, you have to keep making deals with the same people.


Speaking of trade, you might also have noticed that Trump has not yet renegotiated NAFTA to bring back all the manufacturing jobs the country has lost in the last few decades. And he can't seem to decide whether he's going to take another shot at negotiating a health-care deal, or move on to an equally difficult negotiation over tax reform.

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