President Trump said on camera he would proudly shut down the government to get his border wall, he did shut it down, and a majority of Americans blame him for the longest shutdown in U.S. history. But Trump is convinced he has the leverage, The Washington Post reports, and as often is the case with Trump, it's leverage of his own making.
Trump "creates — or threatens to create — a calamity, and then insists he will address the problem only if his adversary capitulates to a separate demand," the Post says, counting at least eight times he has used this technique in office, with mixed success. "Trump has described this approach as creating leverage and negotiating, but Democrats and other opponents have said it amounts to 'hostage taking.'" On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) compared it to "bartering with stolen goods." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) explained why Trump's hardball tactic won't bring Democrats to the table:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “We cannot have the president, every time he has an objection, to say I’ll shut down the government until you come to my way of thinking…If we hold the employees hostage now, they’re hostage forever.” https://t.co/S3QRrEBI3hpic.twitter.com/KG8hXenEJh
Using self-generated leverage — in this case, 800,000 unpaid federal employees and a million immigrants whose protections he's moved to strip — to force concessions "is a well-worn tactic from Trump's business career, but this is the first time the livelihoods of so many U.S. workers and households have hung in the balance," the Post says, and the first time he's used it with Congress. Democrats are standing firm in part because they don't want him to use it again with must-pass funding bills and the debt ceiling.
In a New York Times report Sunday on President Trump's chaotic, sometimes Pyrrhic, remarkably consistent negotiating style, former Trump Organization vice president Barbara Res explained one reason she believes Trump is having such a hard time ending his government shutdown: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). "There was never a woman with power that he ran up against, until Pelosi," Res said. "And he doesn't know what to do with it. He's totally in a corner."
Res elaborated Monday night on MSNBC's The 11th Hour. "There are certain basic tenets of negotiation that Trump does not believe in," like the "win-win" deal or give-and-take, she told guest host Nicole Wallace. Trump's "I demand, and this is what I'm going to get" strategy "has worked for him in certain circumstances where he had all the leverage" and power, but "now he doesn't have either."
"Trump has always felt that men are superior to women, and he even told me that," Res said. "So in his mind, any woman would be inferior to him, even the best of the best. And here's Nancy Pelosi, she probably is the best of the best. Problem is, she's his match, she's not inferior to him, she's — in my opinion, from a point of view of dealmaking — far superior." Trump "can't see" that he "100 percent" could end the shutdown anytime he chooses, she added, and when Wallace asked how this will all end, Res said she doesn't know. "I think, eventually, somebody's going to have to blink," she said, and if Trump rejects a compromise from Democrats, "I think he's going to be in very, very big trouble."
Tony Schwartz, who wrote Trump's The Art of the Deal, told the Times that Trump "was always a terrible negotiator," and his only "virtue" is his use of "a hammer, deceit, relentlessness, and an absence of conscience," and his apathy about any "collateral damage" he leaves behind.