Maybe Trump the deal maker should read his own book
After reading the leaked transcripts of President Donald Trump's January phone calls with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto, I have a good book to recommend to our nation's president.
It's called "Trump: The Art of the Deal."
Yes, that's the 1987 bestseller that is credited to Trump and journalist Tony Schwartz. I always have figured that Schwartz did the writing, but after examining Trump's phone calls, I am wondering whether Schwartz did all of the reading, too.
"Maximize your options," is one of Trump's main "elements of the deal" that he offers potential deal makers. Do thorough research, the book counsels, "keep a lot of balls in the air, because most deals fall out," and even after the deal is done, have a half-dozen approaches to making it work.
But in discussing refugee policy on the phone call with Turnbull, Trump sounds flummoxed and angry, mainly that he has to abide by an agreement that the Obama administration made to take in 1,250 refugees.
As Trump repeatedly asks whether we know who the refugees are, Turnbull repeatedly has to explain the difference between illegal immigrants, who are not vetted, and refugees seeking asylum, who are.
"I look like a dope," says Trump. "The only way that I can do this is to say that my predecessor made a deal and I have no option then to honor the deal. I hate having to do it, but I am still going to vet them very closely."
Yes, vetting is what you do with refugees. Australia has vetted them and the United States is vetting them, too. Trump effectually sounds impressed by Australia's border protection measures, but ends the call abruptly and calls it his "most unpleasant call of the day."
"Use your leverage" is another rule from "Trump: The Art of the Deal." "The worst thing you can possibly do in a deal is seem desperate to make it," Trump says in the book. "That makes the other guy smell blood, and then you're dead."
Yet desperation ripples throughout Trump's phone call with Mexico's Pena Nieto over Trump's signature campaign promise "to build a wall along the Mexican border and make Mexico pay for it."