The idea that America was getting shafted in international deals wasn’t just a theme of the Trump campaign, it was the theme. Donald Trump promised that not only was he a red-hot maker of deals, he was going to bring in a team of all “the best people” while throwing those horrible, terrible deals of the past into the trash can.
But according to Washington Post columnist and conservative stalwart Jennifer Rubin, it turns out Trump’s best people are substandard.
The hope that a business figure who reinvented presidential campaigning might have access to a talent pool filled with figures who could bring new expertise and insights to government was always fanciful. Trump defines success in terms of money and demands absolute loyalty. He lacks any interest in policy and therefore sees no need for policy experts. His narcissism prevents him from getting those more knowledgeable and sophisticated than he to serve.
Trump has ended up with a team where the secretary of state is in hiding, the attorney general is huddled in his bigot bunker, and the secretary of energy is carefully explaining bullshit exports to a Russian comedy show (really). The rest of Trump’s “best” are goggle-eyed yes men who spend most of their time scrambling to explain why Trump’s latest incoherent tweet is good. Real good.
As for Trump’s deal-making skills, those turn out to be as good as a degree from Trump University.
Granted, international diplomacy is a lot tougher than cutting real estate deals in New York, and there’s still a lot of time left on the presidential clock to make Trump great again. But half a year into the Trump era, there’s little evidence of Donald Trump, master negotiator
But … there is no but. The whole point of the “master deal maker” story was selling people on the idea that crafting international trade deals and reciprocal defense plans was easier than knocking off an apartment rental for Trump Tower. It’s not—which should have been obvious.
Quite the opposite, in fact: In several very important areas and with some very important partners, Trump seems to be getting the short end of the proverbial stick. The president who was going to put America first and outmaneuver allies and adversaries alike seems to be getting outsmarted by both at every turn, while the United States gets nothing.
After the multiple meetings with Putin at the G20, Russia got everything it was looking for in Syria. What did America get? Nothing.
The Saudis have absolutely rolled Trump for increased support in Yemen and backing their blockade of rival Qatar—even though Qatar is a U.S. ally and home to a critical military base. What did America get? A black eye.
Trump’s threats, chest-thumping, and some very good chocolate cake have only made North Korea less receptive. With his clumsily-applied stick-and-stick approach, what America has gotten is a new ICBM aimed our way and a whole region convinced that we’re ineffective. Because … it’s true.
And despite putting worst-of-the-best Jared Kushner in charge of Middle East peace, Trump’s efforts seem to have succeeded only in moving the sides further apart and rolling back delicate progress that took decades.
Our problem with Trump is that he’s behaving not as a smart and tough negotiator but as a president who readily succumbs to flattery and personal attention without having any negotiating strategy at all, while his negotiating partners rob him blind. Far from the master deal-maker with transformative goals, Trump is emerging as a guy whose America First mantra actually ends up putting America last. That’s bad news for Trump’s presidency—and a tragedy for the American people.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.