Lost in the temper tantrum that our “esteemed” president threw in front of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer at the White House the other day, and the subsequent pity party he threw for himself in the Rose Garden later that afternoon when, for the umpteenth time, he reiterated that the Mueller Report cleared him of wrong doing – even though it clearly didn’t – was the sad fact that the man who ran on being the greatest deal maker in the history of western civilization, once more couldn’t compose himself long enough to negotiate with members of the opposition party to hash out even the framework of a deal.
In the two and a half years since he was elected, Trump, the so-called “author” of “The Art of the Deal,” has been an abject failure at the one thing he built his entire brand on. Indeed, the only “accomplishment” his party can “boast” about – and I use the terms accomplishment and boast loosely – is the tax bill that passed at the end of 2017; a bill that stole billions of dollars in tax deductions from hard-working middle class Americans and gave them to the top one percent and multi-billion dollar corporations. And the only reason that ghastly bill became law was because Trump stayed the hell out of the way.
Really, name a single thing that Trump has touched that hasn’t turned to shit. Remember the bargain he was going to strike with Democrats back in 2017? He would’ve gotten billions for his stupid wall in return for a deal on DACA. He blew that up because Stephen Miller, AKA, Joseph Goebbels, objected. Lindsey Graham may have blamed Miller at the time, but the last time I checked Miller wasn’t the president; Trump was.
Then there was the great government shutdown of this year; the one where Trump furloughed hundreds of thousands of federal workers for six weeks just so he could wind up with the same deal he could’ve gotten BEFORE the shutdown. Now that’s what I call negotiating. If Jefferson had had Trump’s talent, Louisiana would still be a part of France.
Infrastructure is the one issue where there is consensus between Democrats and Republicans. Regardless of whether you live in a blue state or a red state, if you’ve spent more than five minutes behind the wheel of a car, you know that the roads and bridges in this country are in dire need of repair. In my neck of the woods, both the Long Island Expressway and Northern State Parkway are a disgrace. There are parts of the Northern State where if you drive faster than 50 miles an hour you run the risk of damaging the suspension on your car. You expect road conditions like this in a third-world country, not the greatest nation in the world.
Perhaps there wasn’t a trillion dollar deal to be had, but that was still no excuse for Trump not rolling up his sleeves and trying anyway. To storm out of a meeting because he’s pissed that Democrats are investigating him isn’t just juvenile, it’s contemptible. Both Nixon and Clinton managed to negotiate with the opposing party while they were being investigated and both even managed to get some things done. Clinton, in particular, worked with Republicans in both chambers to pass the S-CHIP program and to produce federal budgets that eventually led to three consecutive budget surpluses. The idea that you can’t do your job because the other side is picking on you is anathema to the very duties he was elected to perform.
And then there’s trade: the issue he spent the majority of his campaign reminding everyone under the sun just how incompetent his predecessors were. If I had a dollar for every time he said the U.S. was getting ripped off, my wife and I would be touring Europe right now. Since he was sworn in, he’s blown up NAFTA, pulled out of TPP and imposed a series of tariffs on Canada, Mexico and China that not only haven’t produced the results he was looking for, but have hurt consumers at the cash register and damaged our exports. Way to go, Skippy! When it comes to screwing up, as the song goes, nobody does it better.
Regarding foreign policy, Trump’s flirtation with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has not only been an embarrassment to this country, it has had the effect of strengthening Kim’s hand rather than weakening it. Not only hasn’t Rocket Man – Trump’s nickname for Kim – given up his nukes, he’s managed to get Trump to agree to end joint military exercises with South Korea that Kim viewed as provocative. Then after he got Trump to cave on that, he resumed his missile launching program. If Kim ever decides to write a book about his dealings with Trump, I’ve got the perfect title for him: “How I Played A Fool and Came Out On Top.”
His unwillingness to work with people who don’t kowtow to his every whim and who fail to stroke his massive ego; his inability to successfully utilize the leverage his office affords him; his reticence to accept any and all advice given him that directly challenges his preconceived worldview; none are emblematic of a great deal maker. What they do reveal is a very insecure man who for the last three and a half decades has peddled this false narrative of a master negotiator who could simply enter a room, snap his fingers and magically get people to do what he wanted. But just like the wizard in the Wizard of Oz, once the curtain was pulled back, the audience finally got a chance to see for themselves who was really running the show. Not some “stable” genius with a game plan, but an aging con artist with nothing but a bag of useless, old tricks and a ton of stale, worn out cliches.
Dorothy shoulda stood in bed.