Deal making like Picasso

One of Donald Trump’s many attributes (as claimed by Trump) is that he is a great deal maker.

“Deals are my art form. Other people paint beautifully on canvas or write wonderful poetry. I like making deals, preferably big deals.” — Donald Trump, “The Art of the Deal”.

Trump’s current deal making skills look a bit Picasso.

The New York Times details the apparent lack of understanding of trump over the Mexican wall funding crisis – What Trump Could Learn From His Shutdown.

In this case, the president’s inability to reach some sort of deal rests heavily on several basic failures of understanding by him and his team. These include:

1. A failure to grasp how divided government works. The president somehow came to believe that he’d have more leverage once the Democrats took control of the House.

Unfortunately, Mr. Trump has been spoiled by two years of Congress being led by weak-kneed members of his party who, even when troubled by his excesses, largely let him run amok, lest he call down upon them the wrath of the Republican base.

2. A failure to understand the costs of playing only to the base. Time and again, Mr. Trump has chosen partisanship over leadership, doing nothing to expand his appeal. This puts him at a disadvantage in wooing the public to his side of the wall debate.

His job approval has slipped over his handling of the wall funding and partial Government shut down. Even both Rasmussen and Economist/YouGov has him falling to -9% – see RealClear Politics.

3. A failure to understand Nancy Pelosi. Apparently, Mr. Trump never got around to reading “The Art of War,” or at least not Sun Tzu’s admonition to “know your enemy.” If he had, the president would have tried to develop at least a basic working relationship with Ms. Pelosi. The White House clearly assumed that, at some point — maybe after she secured the speaker’s gavel — Ms. Pelosi would bend to Mr. Trump’s will. But the speaker is not impressed with bluster. She is seldom cowed by political pressure from her own team, much less the opposing one. She plays the long game, and her will is as formidable as Mr. Trump’s, possibly more so. One key difference: Ms. Pelosi knows how the legislative process works.

4. A failure to understand shutdown politics. If you don’t want to be blamed for one, don’t say you’re going to own it. Mr. Trump sacrificed that option when he boasted how “proud” he’d be to grind the government to a halt.

5. A failure to understand how the government works. Neither Mr. Trump nor anyone on his team had a clue how disruptive even a partial shutdown could be — and how they’d need to scurry to prevent millions of people from losing food stamps, housing or tax refunds.

Ignorance of the real life effects of suddenly having your pay stopped. It’s probably not something trump has ever come close to experiencing.

6. A failure to understand how members of Congress operate. Standing by the president when he’s tweeting out empty threats and insults is one thing. But when a shutdown starts causing pain and outrage back home, Republican lawmakers, especially those in vulnerable districts or states, start asking themselves which they value more — their president or their political hides. Even casual students of Congress know that this is not a tough call.

It may also grind down his support.

Business deals are quite different. You win some, you lose some (like gamblers, business deal makers only brag about their wins, not their losses).

But political deals are far more complex. When a shutdown becomes a part of the pressure it impacts on many people who need to feed their families and retain their homes, and on politicians who want to retain their support.

A president has far more power than a businessman – but most of that power is reliant on many other people. Doing political deals requires an understanding of how to get the support needed to use their power.  Bullshit and bullying may work in some situations, like when you have a gutless Congress. But when you are up against a bloody-minded Congress understanding how politics works is important.

It may be better to liken Trump’s current deal making to a different sort of painting.

Image result for child painting anger

But ignorant anger is not a strong hand in the art of the political deal.

Key painting a risky comparison

John Key has painted a risk target on his forehead by comparing Helen Clark’s painting signing to what Mike Sabin has been investigated for.

Key is defending his ‘judgement call’ not to stand down Mike Sabin when he found out Sabin was under police investigation. Radio NZ reports Key stands by Sabin decision:

But Mr Key is standing by his decision not to stand Mr Sabin down from the role.

“Things can progress and change and ultimately things did progress and things did change, but, on the information I had on 1 December, I was happy with the decision I made.”

He said he was “really comfortable” with his judgment call.

“Helen Clark had an investigation against her and she didn’t stand down as Prime Minister of New Zealand,” he said.

Key seems to be gambling on ‘the information I had on 1 December’ being surprisngly lacking in detail considering that Sabin is reported to have revealed his situation to Key’s office – Sabinhe may not have been open and truthful:

The party expects MPs to come clean about troubles, Key said. “Some are a little better than others in telling us upfront straight away,” he said.

(From Mike Sabin ‘could have been a minister’ – John Key  on 2 February)

And considering what others knew at the time about Sabin. Cameron Slater claims to have known a month or two earlier.

Or Key is banking on the details remaining secret.

If it becomes known publicly what Sabin was being investigated for and possibly charged with (possibly early this month) then comparisons with Clarks trivial painting signing and Sabin’s alleged offences may backfire on Key

Key’s defence seems to be that he didn’t know the severity of Sabin’s situation on 1 December. His office should have known, so Key should have known.

It’s worth asking Key if his judgement wouuld have been the same had he known then what he knows now.

This is al important because of the defence Key is trying to paint. Comparing assisting fundraising for a charity with what Sabin may be found to have done may not paint a good picture for Key.

Key may escape major censure due to claims about timing but the overall picture may be damaging.