Opinion

KERNS: Let’s Hope Trump Caving On The Shutdown Wasn’t A Preview Of His Presidency

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Jen Kerns Contributor

President Trump has only been in Washington for two years now, but he’s already taking on the textbook characteristic of the place: calling something a “win” when it isn’t.

The president took to the Rose Garden on Friday to assure bureaucratic paper-pushers everywhere that their long, national nightmare is over.

Unfortunately, for Republicans it is just beginning.

Anyone who thinks Trump’s about-faced concession is good news, first consider the timing: good news never get dumped on a Friday afternoon.

The news is disappointing for those who supported Trump and his central campaign pledge to secure the nation’s border.

Most disappointing, however, is that Trump failed at “The Art of the Deal” about which he claims to have written the book (both literally and figuratively).

If anything, Trump’s colossal cave-in stands as the perfect chapter on what not to do during a negotiation.

During a negotiation, the offering party does just that — they offer something of value — then, they wait for the opposing party’s counter offer.

First, the president offered his $5.7 billion proposal.

Speaker Pelosi never responded with a counter offer. In fact, she went to Hawaii.

Without even so much as a counter, Vice President Mike Pence reportedly messengered a far lower figure of around $2 billion.

Again, Pelosi never countered. Instead, she went to Puerto Rico.

Next, Trump volunteered protected status to “Dreamers” and Temporary Protected Status to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants.

You guessed it — Pelosi never countered.

In fact, every step of the way, Pelosi stated that anything Trump offered was “a non-starter.”

Rather than laying out his offer then sitting back confidently and letting it ride, it was Trump — not Pelosi — who came back graveling every time.

I’ve seen better deals at a used car lot.

In the process, Trump violated one of his own rules in his 1987 book, “The Art of the Deal.” In it, he wrote, “The worst thing you can possibly do in a deal is seem desperate to make it. That makes the other guy smell blood, and then you’re dead.”

It was Pelosi — who jetted to Hawaii and Puerto Rico during the shutdown — who should have been dead, politically. Instead, with sob stories of government workers unable to make ends meet — even air traffic controllers who make upwards of $200,000 who claim they couldn’t go without even one paycheck — Trump is the one who seemed to lose his mojo.

Sadly, through it all Trump didn’t know his own strength.

Despite predictions that he would be ruined by a shutdown, Trump’s popularity took only a negligible hit over the period of 35-day shutdown — in fact, his popularity remains at 45 percent — not bad, given the tsunami of bad press that was thrown at him. In fact, despite the shutdown Trump holds roughly the same approval/disapproval ratings that the oh-so-popular President Barack Obama had during this week in the second year of his presidency.

In addition, this week Rasmussen reported that 40 percent of Americans still blamed Congressional Democrats for the shutdown. In fact polling showed even after the Democrats’ win of the House of Representatives in November, Americans moved “illegal immigration” to the top issue Congress needed to tackle. As someone who has lived and died by the poll numbers and at the ballot box for the last 15 years, I predicted Trump could have let the government shutdown continue for 65 to 70 days in total and suffered only five to seven points, from which he would have immediately rebounded once the shutdown ended.

Now?

President Trump risks suffering a worse fate — going down in history as President George H.W. Bush did, failing to deliver on his central campaign promise and as a result, demoralizing his base.

With the fate of the border wall now in the Democratic House leadership’s control, the wall is as dead as it’s ever been. Shrewd operator Pelosi is so adept at her craft, she will give the president nothing close to what he asked for, while giving him just enough that he won’t be able to declare a national emergency on February 15. This means that Trump will likely never get his wall, and in the process he will have handed the Democrats an issue with which to campaign against him in 2020.

Lastly, with his failed government shutdown threat Trump became the political nemesis he claims to disdain — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — who too often trusted the Democrats to, as Trump put it, negotiate “in good faith.” After Schwarzenegger caved to Democratic leadership, California got itself the most stringent state-led climate-change deal in American history, and if not for the people who revolted against it, would have also inherited a $16 billion tax increase on Schwarzenegger’s watch (part of a “deal” he negotiated with Democratic leadership.) As a result, California’s Republican base was so demoralized, it eroded — to the extent that, for practical purposes, ceases to exist today. In fact, a Republican governor hasn’t been elected since Schwarzenegger.

You see, negotiations only work if both parties are at the table. If they’re not, then it’s not a deal.

I hope the president is right, that Democrats will negotiate in good faith now. However, his own book tells us that he who gives in during the negotiation often ends up losing everything in the end.

For the sake of the American people — who are faced with crushing illegal immigration costs, MS-13 gang members, and 90 percent of the drugs being funneled into our suburbs coming from Mexico — I hope that the president’s loss today is not a preview of what’s to come from more “deals” with the 116th Congress.

Jen Kerns (@JenKernsUSA) served as spokeswoman for the California Republican Party; spokeswoman for California’s Proposition 8, which went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court; and as a Fox News writer for the 2016 U.S. presidential debates.


 The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.