Analysts say what worked for Donald Trump in business, doesn’t always translate to politics.
“If we have to, we’ll defund. We give tremendous amounts of money to California,” Trump told Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly in an interview that aired on Sunday. “California in many ways is out of control, as you know. … If they’re going to have sanctuary cities, we may have to do that. Certainly that would be a weapon,” he said. “Obviously, the voters agree or otherwise they wouldn’t have voted for me.”
Threatening to cut funding to the nation’s most populous state — and the one with the biggest economy — was Trump’s opening gambit, even though a president cannot unilaterally cut federal funding to a state. And a majority of voters didn’t vote for Trump, he won in the Electoral College. But facts haven’t stopped Trump from making other, similarly worded opening bids during his first weeks in office in an effort to set the terms of debate.
“Everything with him is a first offer to put his opponent on their back foot,” said Jeremy Carl, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University who has advised former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
“No question it is a high-risk, high-reward strategy. It will work well in some places,” Carl said. “In other areas, (Secretary of State) Rex Tillerson is going to earn his paycheck.”
Over the past several days, tweeted about cutting federal funding to UC Berkeley, put Iran “on notice,” promised to “totally destroy” a 63-year-old tax law, and encouraged Senate Republicans to “go nuclear” to get Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch confirmed.
But analysts say what worked for Trump in business, doesn’t always translate to politics. That sort of “Art of the Deal” bravado could dangerously escalate international relations, where leaders often speak in diplomatically worded politesse to avoid conflict.
“It’s extremely dangerous, especially when it comes to Iran and China,” said Bruce Jentleson, a former senior foreign policy adviser to Al Gore who served in President Barack Obama’s State Department. “You keep doing this, and climbing the ladder of escalation, and then you’re in wars or conflicts you shouldn’t be in. I worry a lot about that.”
It’s not that deal-making is inherently bad or unusual.
“Deal-making works. The Louisiana Purchase was a deal. We’ve seen deal-making throughout American history,” said Steven Davidoff Solomon, the author…