Let me begin by making several clear and explicit statements of opinion.
- I believe President Donald Trump is not a nice man.
- I believe President Trump has learned a lot about people over the course of his career in business.
- I believe that the first and foremost character trait that describes President Trump is negotiator.
- I believe President Trump views between 90-98% of his daily personal interactions as a potential deal to be made.
- I believe that if you want to earn the respect of Donald Trump, in his role as President or not, you must show him respect first.
Those things being said…
One of the most powerful techniques available to a negotiator in any situation is “walkaway power.” If you can leave a deal on the table and walk out of the room forever, you are much more likely to get what you want from that deal.
If you don’t think it’s true, try it the next time you buy a car and see how long it takes the salesman to call you.
President Trump has walkaway power. He can quit being the President and go back to what he was before at any time. It’s unlikely that he will, but more possible than it has been with any president going back to Lyndon Johnson.
He’s not as emotionally invested in being President as the American people are accustomed to seeing. He doesn’t have to please anyone but himself. Over the last three years, I think he has learned that by doing what he wants to do, he is pleasing an awful lot of the American people too.
Obviously all those people are LITERALLY racists, LITERALLY sexists, LITERALLY fascists, LITERALLY Nazis and other assorted insults that are LITERALLY diminishing in power every time they are used.
Today, in his post-election press conference, he wielded that walkaway power against Jim Acosta and several other members of the WHPC who tried to defend him.
Many members of the press, as networks and individuals, have condemned Trump for his attacks on the press. They say he has a duty to protect a free press rather than attack it.
They can say that without fear of being arrested, jailed or lured into a consulate and losing a fistfight with a bonesaw.
Because here in America, the press is, in fact, FREE.
Free to write what they want about President Trump, even if it’s false.
Free to print what they want about President Trump, even if it’s false.
Free to say what they want about President Trump, even if it’s false.
Free to attack him verbally in a press conference in the White House itself.
Free in every possible way a journalist can be free to do his or her job.
But there are and always have been limits on the freedom of the press. Some of these are legal limits, such as libel, slander and other forms of defamation, but the bar on those is awfully high, and that’s not what I’m talking about.
The press is limited (or perhaps I should say the RESPONSIBLE press is limited) by the ability of any citizen, man, woman or child, all the way up to and including the President of the United States, to slam a door in their face and refuse to answer their questions.
Just because a reporter has a right to ask questions and chase stories without interference from the government, this does not confer upon any citizen the obligation to answer those questions or help with those stories. Nor does it obligate any citizen, including the President, from expressing his opinion on the veracity of their end product, of the character of individual journalists or of the outlets employing them.
Calling a dead skunk a bouquet of roses doesn’t change the smell.
Getting back to President Trump – he’s not a nice man. He knows bullshit when he hears it, and when he speaks it, which is frequently. As a dealmaker, he’s not going to be inclined to give you anything without getting something for himself. The press has demonstrated for nearly three years running that they are not interested in treating him with respect, fairness, or any of the doe-eyed deference and admiration they gave to his predecessor.
And they are aghast that he would treat them with such contempt.
Pull the other one, it plays Jingle Bells.