From the Left



Maybe Trump the deal maker should read his own book

By Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

Again, Trump tries with mixed success to conceal his shallow understanding of the issues in question -- despite having campaigned on them for the past two years.

Worse, he bemoans his own predicament, having promised his base that Mexico will pay for the wall, despite the symbolic national insult it presents to many Mexicans and the inability of that country to pay for such a project, even if they wanted to.

All that Trump seems to have in mind is the corner his rhetoric has painted himself into.

"The fact is we are both in a little bit of a political bind because I have to have Mexico pay for the wall -- I have to," Trump says. "I have been talking about it for a two-year period, and the reason I say they are going to pay for the wall is because Mexico has made a fortune out of the stupidity of U.S. trade representatives."

Since Pena Nieto has plenty of domestic political problems of his own, I do not know why Trump would think that spilling his own self-inflicted political woes would help his case. Eventually the two leaders agree to a classic political dodge: They'll simply stop talking about who's going to pay for the wall.

"They are going to say, 'Who is going to pay for the wall, Mr. President?' to both of us, and we should both say, 'We will work it out,' " Trump says. "It will work out in the formula somehow. As opposed to you saying, 'We will not pay' and me saying, 'We will not pay.' "

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How long can Trump kick that can down the road? That remains to be seen. In the meantime, Pena Nieto agrees to "look for a creative way to solve this issue" that serves both countries' interests.

Meanwhile, we await how well Trump meets another of his book's nuggets of advice: "Deliver the goods." Put the proposed wall with a tax code overhaul, infrastructure repair and Obamacare repeal-and-replacement among major programs that Trump and Congress have yet to enact.

Welcome to the world of governance, Mr. Trump. Delivering the goods in the world of politics and government is very different from the world of business. I read that in a book somewhere.


(E-mail Clarence Page at



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