Trump Will Accomplish Little, Because You Can’t Do Business with Him


Even if your negotiating partner is a bad actor, sometimes you can do business with her, because some of her interests may coincide with some of your interests. There may well be a basis to do a deal, even if there is little mutual trust or mutual respect.

On the other hand, there are some folks that you just can’t do business with.

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo sometimes goes for the capillary instead of the jugular. At other times he writes masterfully. Today, in How Trump’s Religion of ‘Winning’ Is Sabotaging His Presidency, Marshall allows as how,

Yes, Trump made his threat [on Obamacare and on the Mexican wall]. Then he caved. But while threatening and caving he was here and there un-threatening and un-caving. It wasn’t just bluster followed by fail in some normal linear fashion. It was impossible to now what Trump and the White House were doing or about to do. It was and is impossible to know what was trying to do. So congressional Republicans seem simply to have stopped trying.

As of last night, they were simply negotiating a deal to keep the government open and largely ignoring the President. In a sense, Trump has brought back the actual give and take of legislating by dint of his inability to act like a grown up or even a President.

As with every new White House and administration, we see a constant effort to see who at the White House is calling the shots, who is really speaking for the President or which one of the President’s advisors is screwing things up. Who really speaks for the President out of conflicting advisors who sometimes make contradictory statements or signal lesser or greater levels of confrontation?

What seems clear with Trump is that the exercise is likely mistaken in itself. There’s no Trump viewpoint or thinking or goal to represent. There’s no actor at the center of the machine, at least not one who remains constant enough in any aim or view to matter. So there’s no point figuring our which advisor speaks for the President or represents his thinking. Because, fundamentally, there’s no thinking to represent. …

President Trump seems fundamentally different. He just want wins – virtually anything that is doable and his constellation of advisors and supporters at the moment can count as a win.

This may seem like it dramatically opens the opportunities to pass legislation: since Trump will sign basically anything that counts as a ‘win.’ In practice, just the opposite is the case. Since the President is only concerned with wins, there is no policy agenda or policy specificity, regardless of how malleable, for legislators to grab on to or work with. If they did, it’s just as likely it might change for any number of reasons. As we’ve noted, the presidency is the centripetal force of American politics. Without that force to wrap legislative strategies around it’s very difficult to operate. …

Trump’s winning-centric approach to the Presidency has been slapdash, erratic and impossible to predict. Hill leaders seem more likely to govern around him, if not necessarily in spite of him. Because there’s simply no there there to negotiate with or to follow.

Aardvark’s final word: one of life’s axioms is that if a thing cannot happen, then that thing will not happen.

You cannot do business with Trump.

Therefore, it follows as the night the day, that no business will be done.