As a lifelong freelancer, I have been in several high-level negotiations in my life — high-level for me, at least, with my career and my family’s future on the line. Sometimes I have been protected by agents who did the talking for me, but the final decisions have always been mine. And here is what I’ve learned.
Negotiation is movement. The truth is not in any given moment, it’s in the whole process, beginning to end. If someone says, “That’s my last offer,” that doesn’t mean it’s his last offer. If someone says, “It’s over!” that doesn’t mean it’s over. And if someone says he loves you, that doesn’t mean he loves you either. It’s all part of the game. Everyone gets this.
Donald Trump is a negotiator, as he has told us from the start. Not everything he says means what it means. Not every final decision he makes is final. And just because he says he loves you, that doesn’t mean he does. He’s in motion toward a goal, and the truth is in the motion. By now, most of us get this.
Except the press. They just hate him too much to take him as he is — to take him as he has always said he is. They don’t accept he’s in a moving negotiation. If he says it’s over and it’s not over, they call him a liar. If he says he loves Putin, they declare he loves Putin. By now, most of us understand that Trump doesn’t operate that way. Not the press.
To be fair, there are some commentators with honest concerns. They feel that, as president, Trump’s words should have more weight than a negotiator’s words. He shouldn’t say it’s over unless it’s really over. He shouldn’t say he loves you if you happen to be a gangster piece of garbage like Vladimir Putin or Kim Jong-un. Fair enough. There’s a price you pay for everything, and there’s a price America will pay for having a president who approaches truth as a negotiator.
But as we saw this week, there are lots of benefits as well.
As the week began, the press and politicians on both the left and right were in a full, hen-clucking hysteria over Trump’s trade policies. “Tariffs are the greatest,” Trump tweeted. And in the press and Congress, players on both sides were declaring free trade was dead and the end of the economy was nigh. They neglected to recall that Trump had also said at the G7 summit back in June that all tariffs and trade barriers should be lifted. “No tariffs, no barriers, that’s the way it should be.”
Tariffs and the threats of tariffs were clearly Trump’s way of bringing our trading partners to the table. He said this too. “They’re all coming,” he declared in a speech just this week. “They don’t want to have those tariffs put on them, they’re all coming to see us.”
And so it was. On Thursday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed to negotiate with no preconditions for zero tariffs and subsidies. This may not be victory for Trump, but it’s certainly a victory for him, the justification of his strategy and a confirmation of his skills.
How did our corrupt and dishonest press report it? The original headline in the New York Times (a former newspaper) read: With Surprise Deal, U.S. and E.U. Step Back From Trade War. Which raises the question: surprise to whom? Not to Trump. He said it was going to happen! A surprise only to the New York Times, so immersed in its own false narrative that reality takes them off guard. Likewise, the networks, who played the whole thing as if Trump had either backed down or blundered into the success he engineered and predicted.
In the same vein, the press also virtually ignored evidence Trump had made progress with North Korea. And the Democrats attacked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for pointing out that Trump’s tough Russia policies belied his words.
All of this makes for a complex world for the rest of us. We have a president who speaks like a negotiator, treating truth as a process, different at different stages. We have a news media so choked with leftist hatred and rage, it no longer has any commitment to the truth at all. How to know what’s real and what’s illusion?
Results are all we have to go by. As of right now, the negotiator is doing pretty damned well.
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