ANALYSIS: Sometimes Trump’s deal making ways actually work
Donald Trump just may be on to something with his unusual way of doing business.
His cut-throat, jam-it-through style has worked again, and he has a shiny new trade deal to show for it.
Critics will point out that much of the original text of NAFTA is preserved by the new USMCA, but the point is Trump has erased the NAFTA name, secured concessions from Canada and Mexico, while sticking to the deadlines that work for him.
In short, he has walked away with the kind of headlines he can take to the bank – or in this case, the ballot box, when Americans vote in midterm elections in just a few weeks.
Sure, the devil is in the details, but the president has done enough to be able to say he made a promise, and kept it. Few voters will look past that.
Trump has always cast himself as the ultimate deal maker, so this type of result is very much on-brand.
WATCH BELOW: Donald Trump talks about USMCA trade deal
As much as it drives his critics wild, his unusual tactics can actually work, even if the methods are well-rehearsed and often repeated.
It all seems to come down to Trump’s willingness to focus on one big thing, and plow ahead until he gets his way.
Usually, that means going straight to the nuclear option, even when, in the case of North Korea, he is quite literally talking about the nuclear option.
With NAFTA, that meant being prepared to walk away from the table and cut Canada out of the deal if the Canadians wouldn’t concede to his demands.
When you’re willing to go to war, or cut out your closest ally, anything less than that worst-case scenario is better, right?
There were remarkable similarities in the way Trump handled North Korea and NAFTA. There were deadlines and pressure tactics. Talks were on again, and off again.
In both cases, Trump suggested that maybe there would be a deal, or maybe there wouldn’t be — but either way, he’d be happy.
Expectations couldn’t possibly have been set any lower.
Most notably, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un found themselves with something in common: they were on the receiving end of personal insults from Trump during the heat of negotiations.
Kim Jong Un was “little rocket man,” while days before the NAFTA deadline Trump said of a high-level Canadian negotiator, presumed to be Freeland, “We don’t like their representative very much.”
In both cases, Trump was able to walk away with quick headlines proclaiming a win, even if USMCA still has to be approved by all three countries, and even though North Korea still has its nuclear weapons.
But that’s Trump’s strategy: promise big, set expectations low, and deliver something incrementally better.
Jackson Proskow is Washington Bureau Chief for Global National.
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