Great negotiator or discredited buffoon? Trump can’t be both.

In only two months, we can already confirm who this guy is and why he’s failing with such flair.


Kowtowing to party dogma, the self-inflated, “world’s greatest deal-maker” is whiffing badly. Yet, despite his laughable manifesto, “truthful hyperbole,” Trump has escaped mortal blows to his wheeling-dealing swagger. That’s changing fast as Trump “hyperbole” surpasses even desperate sales bluster, morphing into an astonishing parade of ham-fisted, self-defeating lying. So much for great deals making America great again.

And what happens when even this loaded sales pitch incinerates before our eyes? Whatever his hypnotic hold over loyalists, Trump’s whirligig of whoppers certifies him the most dramatically exposed charlatan in our history. How long before PT Barnum, for a century the icon for disgraceful carnival barking, is displaced by a true master hustler of the biggest con yet: Trumpster, Inc.?

In only two months, we can already confirm who this guy is and why he’s failing with such flair: 1) this leering, bullying billionaire never learned the art of public lying (oblivious to “plausible deniability”); and 2) whatever wheeling-dealing talent made Mr. Braggadocio rich, as president he’s already a deal-making disaster. “I play to people’s fantasies,” he wrote (truthfully) without realizing that non-stop WH scrutiny amplifies every bizarre delusion of grandeur. Making potentially treasonous deals with Russia dramatizes the void of domestic deals that would favor his constituency.

Conspicuously AWOL is the non-existent Trump wand that restores good jobs to his defiant coal mining, small-town, blue-collar base. He fusses more with twitter trivialities than hard-nosed specifics that manufacture factory jobs. “Just trust me,” while dishing out a cruel, austerity budget for the needy in the heartland, means shredding funds for what unemployed oldsters need most: retraining, moving subsidies and domestic employer job incentives.  Instead, Trump’s Scrooge-like budget screws all but arms vendors, offering less medical care at higher costs, less housing and food support, in the endless to help ordinary folks. Even his twitter jawboning is publicity by intimidation, boasting about relatively insignificant job gains without addressing the real, immediate threat beyond outsourcing: automation.

Trump, the job destroyer

In fact, as Jennifer Rubin writes, Trump’s reductive, zero-sum, trickle-down notions could well reduce jobs:

The Bannon/Trump/Navarro worldview endangers the economic health of the United States, the jobs of millions of Americans and the stability of Western democracies. Those hurt the most will be those with the fewest resources and transferable skills – namely, the “forgotten men and women.”

Of course, Trump is covertly deal-making, but only to serve his millionaire/billionaire class (who hates the “alternative tax” he wants out). Mere hypocrisy doesn’t cover painful betrayals if conservative David Brooks is right: “The [Trump] infrastructure and jobs plan is being put off until next year (which is to say never)”? NOT postponed is tax relief for the rich, with or without ACA changes. While Rust Belt jobs stagnate, the White House mucks about with rejected Muslim bans and or it’s unpopular, cockamamie $22 billion+ wall folly. That boondoggle fails straight off, as Mexican immigration has declined, and 60% of the undocumented – many Asian – fly in and overstay visas. Lose-lose, doubled down.

How long can misguided delusions about Trump the leader, let alone great negotiator, obscure scary character flaws – intolerance, malice, pettiness, an undisciplined, scatter-gun mind or insensitivity to minorities and women? When, by the way, has Trump in two years exhibited political deal-making savvy, certainly not across the primary or election races? When has he heard “the other side,” or worked on unifying a fractured electorate: the only “compromised” result so far is to his own unprincipled, lack of integrity. What did he contribute to Ryan’s health bill nastiness, since it contradicts so many constant pledges: coverage for all, lower costs, lower drug prices, more options? His desperation to “win,” however pyrrhic, lashed him to Ryan’s health shipwreck; whether it passes or not, it’s IMO a lose-lose for Rethugs.

Much pain, no gain

Ditto on the Muslim ban: inflexible White House schemers fall short again, thus their illegal, discriminatory ban drew instant judicial backlash. You’d think an expert in predatory litigation like Donald would know better: who “negotiates” with federal judges or constitutional standards? Ditto, the Wall: empty promises, no Mexican payment, no more than a token structure gets built. What deficit-obsessed Congress wastes billions on symbolism when coming to terms with Trump’s severe austerity budget? “Wins” aren’t just hard to find, but missing in action.

Even on deregulation, Trump isn’t negotiating, just pontificating; he just dumps executive orders, one that blindly dictates for every new regulation, two older ones must go. What folly: governance by dart-throwing, as if all regulations are equal. “Add one, drop two” is total nonsense, not rational negotiating by a “really smart person.” Trumpthink here reminds me of Orwell’s Animal Farm where “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

And there’s more: what kind of knowledge-based, deal-making looms on energy, education, climate change, or EPA authority? Reactionary cabinet picks, without D.C. governance skills, defy their own agency mission statements. True (if improbable) deal-making, say on energy, looks to high paying, environmentally-friendly, good jobs (in alternative energy), not dishonoring science with cartoon invectives on climate change? Not on this watch for this sordid crew.

Low credibility going lower

Overall, what blunder-prone newbie (and alleged change-agent) squanders his abysmally-low credibility by fixating on undeniable lies? Trump the failed negotiator remains blind to his greatest obstacle, the entrenched Washington Gridlock Syndrome. Agreeing to bad faith, party legislation on health care, compounded with no positives on jobs, will wound his historically low approval numbers, eventually dooming his presidency.

What political leverage, thus negotiating strength, accrues to a pathological buffoon without guiding principles OR attention to any specifics of the issue/deal on the table? That’s arrogant, fake “negotiating” from ignorance. Only perceived or PR “winning” counts, reality be damned. That way lies more madness, even constitutional crises when the Trump-Russian connivance is disgraced with more C words – co-operation, co-ordination and, worst of all, collusion with Russia. What irony: Trump has already made deals with Putin’s autocratic gang, but not for his own angry, suffering citizens. Sad, if not sick.  

The last words go to Dana Milbank, identifying the most damning presidential character flaw: low intelligence, in every sense of the word:

This tragicomedy adds irony when you consider that the main character is the same one who campaigned by saying “they laugh at our stupidity” and “we are led by very, very stupid people” and “I have the best words, but there’s no better word than ‘stupid.’ ” Now the world has reason to laugh at us – because we’re with stupid.


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For over a decade, Robert S. Becker's independent, rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, history, implications, messaging and frameworks. He has been published widely, aside from Nation of Change and RSN, with extensive credits from OpEdNews (as senior editor), Alternet, Salon, Truthdig, Smirking Chimp, Dandelion Salad, Beyond Chron, and the SF Chronicle. Educated at Rutgers College, N.J. (B.A. English) and U.C. Berkeley (Ph.D. English), Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, then U. Chicago) for business, founding SOTA Industries, a top American high end audio company he ran from '80 to '92. From '92-02, he was an anti-gravel mining activist while doing marketing, business and writing consulting. Since then, he seeks out insight, even wit in the shadows, without ideology or righteousness across the current mayhem of American politics.