Kim Jong-un, the Dear Leader of North Korea, met America’s Dear Leader recently. Kim played President Donald Trump like a cheap fiddle. The Economist said, “Kim Jong Won.”
Trump is not an “extraordinary” negotiator as he claims. He is abysmal. I should know. I used to be a negotiator. I was a lawyer. Later, I became a banker for commercial real estate loans. These involve difficult negotiations with borrowers like Trump. Once a fellow banker asked me, “What was all that NOISE?” I told her it was a quiet meeting with Mr. So-and-So.
There are three ways to negotiate — the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. The Good Way to negotiate involves trade-offs leading to a deal. The Bad Way is to make big concessions but to get little in return. The Ugly Way is to end up in bankruptcy court. I used to spend entire days there in negotiations.
Trump does not know how to negotiate. In business he would concede anything in order to get a contract signed. He would then trash it, having snared his victims with the so-called “suck-along theory.” He would then demand everything he wanted and rip off his contractors. He has accordingly been involved in well over 3,500 lawsuits (USA Today). Yet he became fixed in the public mind as a brilliant negotiator due to three obvious facts and his two dubious skills.
He is a shameless liar and shameless self-promoter. Obviously, millions of Americans do not care. Secondly, he can play the media and the American public like a gypsy’s fiddle. Both come running back for more abuse when he blows his dog whistle.
But these “skills” do not play well in global politics. With Kim he folded like a cheap tent. Without getting anything in return, Trump canceled joint military exercises with South Korea. This was a victory for Kim, who conceded nothing. The “agreement” Trump reached with Kim was a joke. Kim has already reneged on it.
Trump has not had a single successful negotiation as president. He simply walks away from existing deals, expecting the other parties to come running back to King Donald. This is why we have no new deal on the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. He lavished praise on Chinese president Xi Jinping but got nothing in return. Not only that, he started a trade war. Republicans hurt by foreign tariffs (exporters of bourbon, motorcycles and farm produce) are now crying on National Public Radio.
On and on goes the dismal list of Trump’s failures: No deal with tariffs on steel and aluminum; no deal with Russia on Syria; no nuclear deal with Iran after walking away from the old one; no new deal on global warming after walking away from the Paris Agreement; no deal with the Group of Seven in Canada; no deal for the 800,000 “Dreamers” who entered America illegally as children; no deal on gun control even after the Parkland school shooting; no deal on the Affordable Care Act, which he is simply trying to sabotage; no infrastructure deal and certainly no reduction of the national debt. Republicans will instead increase this debt by $1.9 trillion purely to benefit their cronies. They will stick your children with the tab and ultimately increase your taxes.
Trump cannot even negotiate with Republicans! His managing of the border was appalling. Thousands of children were separated from their parents. Trump spent days lying, falsely blaming Democrats and claiming it was Congress’s responsibility to end the mess. But Republicans could not agree on an immigration bill. Only after the Pope spoke out did Trump reverse his policy.
Trump cannot even negotiate from a position of strength. British and American intelligence agencies all agree that Russia interfered with the 2016 election. Right before Trump’s meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin at Helsinki, 12 new indictments — all against Russians — were handed down by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. But Trump came out of his secret two-hour meeting with Putin looking like a whipped puppy. Putin was smirking. He is clearly blackmailing Trump.
At the press conference, Trump fawned over Putin, to worldwide hilarity. A German newscaster nearly wet herself laughing, on the air, referring to the “pee-pee tape.” The UK Daily Mirror derided Trump as “Putin’s poodle.” Even our own media have been covering Trump’s incompetence and treachery. CNN’s Anderson Cooper called it the “most disgraceful” performance he had ever witnessed from a president. Trump’s efforts to “clarify” his remarks by lying about a “double negative” merely created further derision.
If you do not know whether to laugh or cry … cry, very hard. America is a laughingstock. But at least we may have reached rock bottom with our fake president with his fake suntan, fake sincerity, fake patriotism and fake negotiations.