Trump’s ‘Art of the Deal’

lavarr policy insightsDonald Trump continues to flirt with deception and half-truths, like questioning whether Pres. Obama was born in the United States and then blaming the 2008 Clinton campaign for starting the rumors.

But playing fast and loose with the facts doesn’t hurt him because his supporters assume it’s part of his shtick, part of his game designed to keep the news media talking about him and his opponents off guard. He’s getting inside his opponents’ heads, feinting and posturing. It’s the “art of the deal.”

I’ve never seen a politician use inconsistency, obfuscation, and outright dishonesty as an effective political tool. But Trump manages it.

Have you ever been part of a negotiation, part of a deal that you must get done, where your opponent is completely unpredictable, says and does outrageous things, is fickle and impulsive, but is also crafty and shrewd?

For a straight-up, fair-minded, earnest sort of person like me, being in such a situation with an opponent who is always bluffing, always posturing, is very uncomfortable.

I suppose that’s why Donald Trump is so confounding. It’s why the mainstream establishment and particularly Democrats and the Hillary Clinton campaign can’t comprehend why the election could be a dead heat.

Trump doesn’t really believe Pres. Obama is a foreigner, but by playing coy, by contradicting himself, he drives the media nuts, his opponents nuts, and he gets more headlines.

Then he delivers that smirking smile, a sly wink, signaling to his supporters that, once again, he’s knocked his opponents off message, got them responding to him, made himself the center of attention.

The brilliance of this strategy (if you can call it that) is that he can say or do nearly anything he wishes, even things that his supporters don’t support or believe, because they think he’s just being crafty, just being a smart negotiator, just keeping his opponents off-balance.

The traditional news media absolutely loathe him. They point out his inconsistencies, his inaccuracies, his naïve approach to policy. But they cover his every utterance. He’s always big news. In return, he vilifies them, plays them, laughs at them, and they cover him even more. The conventional wisdom in politics is that you don’t pick fights with the people who buy ink by the barrel and paper by the roll. But fighting with the news media is an integral part of Trump’s campaign.

To be certain, sometimes he goes too far, as when he attacks Gold Star mothers. But, for the most part, he gets away with it. I don’t believe Trump is particularly smart or a brilliant strategist. He simply is who he is, and he was lucky enough to emerge, at precisely the right time in political history when disgruntled citizens are looking for someone to stick it to the establishment.