Why Not to Believe This ‘Hype’ About Trump

Near the close of Friday’s White House press briefing, a journalist asked lazy-eyed liar Sarah Huckabee Sanders what “specific steps” Trump is taking to get ready for a summer meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The president’s press secretary lied that there is nothing to worry about and didn’t actually answer the question:

“[T]he president is, I think, the ultimate negotiator and dealmaker when it comes to any type of conversation…. And we feel very confident in where we are.”

At the same time, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) was lying that Trump is “one of the best negotiators.” Right after that, in a different interview, asked why Trump agreed to the meeting, a leading administration official claimed that the president “has made his reputation on making deals.”

Maybe so, but has Trump actually earned that reputation, or could it be an inaccurate sales pitch founded on meaningless hype with absolutely no basis in reality? (The answer is yes.)

Certainly, this egotistical yet insecure president wants to be seen as a world-class negotiator. Just before launching his horrible presidential campaign, Trump told Americans what he mistakenly thought is his greatest strength. “Deals are my art form,” the Republican incorrectly bragged. “Other people paint beautifully or write poetry. I like making deals, preferably big deals. That’s how I get my kicks.” That’s why he paid a ghost-writer to write him a book called, “The Art of the Deal.”

But in reality, this is one of President Stupid’s biggest weaknesses, and there are a lot of competing weaknesses.

As president, the major deals – either foreign or domestic – negotiated by Donald Trump still stands at zero. Trump tried but failed to negotiate a passable health care deal. Trump tried and failed to put together an immigration deal. His plutocratic party voted yes on massive tax breaks for the rich, but Trump’s role in getting Republicans to do what they already wanted to was irrelevant.

Trump has not negotiated any new trade agreements. He has negotiated not a single new security agreement. He has made several unilateral executive-branch actions, but that’s just because the White House’s attempts at deal-making haven’t worked.

Those who are looking for the bright side might bring up a U.S.-negotiated cease-fire in Syria, but even then, the administration just gave more power and authority to Donald Trump’s puppet masters in Russia.

Others might think that Trump hasn’t shown any deal-making skills as president, but that we should look instead to the abilities he demonstrated while in the private sector. But even then, his record is not what it is claimed to be. I’m reminded of a thoughtful piece Vox’s Ezra Klein wrote in 2017:

The answer can be found in Trump Steaks. And Trump University. And Trump Vodka. And Trump Suits. And Trump’s fragrance line, his board game, his ghostwritten books, his energy drink, his eyeglasses, and his chocolate bars.

Yes, these are all real Trump products. And they expose the reality of Trump’s dealmaking. Trump is not a guy who makes particularly good deals so much as a guy who makes a lot of deals – many of which lash his name and reputation to garbage products.

Trump, a lifelong teetotaler, didn’t scour the globe to find the very best vodka. No — someone offered him an opportunity to make a quick buck by putting his name on a product he wouldn’t ever touch and he took it. Trump University was a far darker scam. Trump Steaks were, and are, a joke.

This is Trump’s pattern: He licenses his brand and lets others worry about the details of the products. Trump’s partners often end up going out of business and his customers often end up disappointed, but Trump makes some money, and he gets his name out there, and it’s all good.

This model has made Donald Trump very wealthy, but it’s unrelated to being a successful president who can strike meaningful deals. Nobody should trust that Trump can competently handle a meeting with Kim Jong-un. We can only hope that the North Korean leader has peaceful plans of his own that won’t depend on skillful negotiation by an idiotic president.