Trump Admits Failure (Almost)

Donald Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un did not go exactly to plan. Trump didn’t get the photo op or press he wanted and walked out. Even worse, he admitted that the summit was a failure.

Well, not quite in so many words. Trump never admits failure or mistakes. So he had to blame the failure on others. In this case, the Democrats. It was “a new low” that they had the audacity to schedule a hearing with Michael Cohen at the same time as the summit. They stole the media’s mind-share from him, an unforgivable sin.

During the two years that the Republicans controlled Congress, Trump had no problem blaming them for his legislative failures. Now that the Democrats control the House, there will be even more blame shift. The thing to remember though, is that every time Trump blames someone else for a failure, it is still a failure. He is probably going to rack up a lot more of them.

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Mar-a-Lago (Far) East

I don’t know why everyone was surprised that Donald Trump showed North Korea’s Kim Jong Un a ‘propaganda’ video after their meeting earlier this month. Trump was just dusting off the sales technique that has worked so well for him in the past as a real estate developer.

Ask anyone that has been to a sales presentation for a vacation timeshare or condo. They are slicker than snot on a doorknob, using photos and videos to show you how sweet life would be if you would just sign up. If they weren’t that slick, people wouldn’t bite. Of course, once they sign up, many people find that the deal isn’t as sweet as they thought it would be.

Trump has been successful with slick sales presentations for years. He built his real estate career on it. And the sales technique worked over and over again. Wall Street bankers finally became immune to it, but that was only after being burned by Trump several times.

Trump is simply reverting to the persuasive tool he knows best. He is figuring that Kim is a greenhorn and will be wowed enough by the sales presentation to buy into Trump’s vision.

Maybe it will work and Kim will hire the Trump company to manage his new resorts and hotels. Or maybe Kim will see right through the slickness and play Trump right back. My bet is on the latter.

 

Crazy Kim Vs. Crazy Trump

Kim Jong Un has been talking crazy trash about the United States since he became the leader of North Korea 7 years ago, continuing the tradition of his father and grandfather. Until recently the United States has responded diplomatically, but that was BT (before Trump).

Donald Trump knows all about crazy trash talk and there was no way he was going to miss an opportunity to hurl some back at Kim. Kim had to respect this, and the next thing you know he warmed up to the South Koreans over the Olympics and got Trump to agree to meet with him.

Now the serious negotiation starts. Kim has already started to mess with Trump by adding new demands before a meeting can occur. There will be more back and forth, but the key to understanding any negotiation is to look at what each side really wants.

Kim wants:

  • To be recognized as a ‘player’
  • To remain in power
  • Economic gains

The first goal has already been accomplished – Trump agreed to meet with him. Even if the meeting never takes place, Kim wins. The second objective is not really under threat, so call that a win too.  Kim has already won some on the third objective as well. He has reopened economic discussions with S. Korea and any deal is likely to result in some sanctions relief.

Trump wants:

  • favorable headlines
  • favorable headlines
  • favorable headlines

Trump will do almost anything to get a deal, because that would give him the press he craves. He is going to have to get through hardliner John Bolton to do that, but Bolton works for him so that should not be too hard. When and if the meeting between him  and Kim ever happens, Trump will announce that he has just done “the best deal EVER”.

There is a pretty good chance that once the fine print and Kim’s post deal maneuvering (cheating) are taken into account the deal will turn out to be not so great after all. The irony for Trump is that he may get the headlines he craves when the deal is announced but for months afterwards he will likely get the opposite: stories about how he the US got snookered. If Trump is not careful, the Great Dealmaker’s N Korea folly may give the Democrats some juicy material going into the November elections.