According to a story Monday from the Washington Post, President Trump should not unduly pressure his rivals in negotiations because the moves are “politically risky” for the president and “send mixed messages and put U.S. national security at risk.”
“Trump’s support on three issues – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids, tariffs on Mexico and action against Iran – is politically risky for the president, who is increasingly employing brinkmanship in an effort to achieve key policy goals,” the Post’s Felicia Somnez and David J. Lynch wrote.
Vice President Mike Pence argued on the Sunday talk shows that the president “demonstrated the restraint that the American people, I know, admire and are grateful for” and that “Iran should not mistake restraint for a lack of resolve. All options remain on the table.”
But “with the first Democratic debates of the 2020 presidential race days away, several White House contenders seized on Trump’s calling off the Iran strike as the latest in a pattern of reversals,” the Post wrote.
So it was not experts so much taking issue with Trump’s moves but candidates looking to unseat him. The Post quoted Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) describing Trump’s behavior “as similar to somebody setting afire a basket full of paper and then putting it out.”
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), was then quoted as saying, “I don’t believe that anyone should receive credit for a crisis of their own making,” and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), argued that “even when there are strikes on tankers, we see again our allies very skeptical to even believe us right now.
“This has been folly. There is no strategy here. We have a president that seems to be doing this like a reality TV show and trying to build more drama and trying to make foreign policy by tweet.”
It then quoted a professor from the University of Minnesota’s Hubert Humphrey School of Public Affairs saying, “Ronald Reagan was very clear. There’s no ambiguity about his views about the world and his willingness to pursue them. None. Sometimes he was criticized but there was a clarity and a consistency and a pattern that was established.”
“With Trump, in contrast, both our allies and our enemies are at a loss to understand what the president means,” the Post wrote.
It’s not that Trump’s strategies haven’t worked. He’s had two summits with the leader of North Korea; no other president had had so much as one meeting with Kim Jong Un or his father or grandfather who preceded him. Mexico suddenly got extremely interested in helping us protect our southern border once Trump threatened to impose tariffs, then increase them every month until he got the results he wanted.
By threatening to unilaterally withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement, he forced Canada and Mexico to negotiate a new agreement far more favorable to U.S. interests.
The point of the story was to write that Trump’s latest gambit – ordering Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents to arrest and deport those who had received deportation orders but unlawfully remained in the country – “appears to have fallen flat so far. Democrats have responded not by scrambling to the negotiating table but rather by accusing him of government by hostage-taking.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., did not get the memo about it falling flat. She greenlighted legislation on Sunday night that would provide aid to the border in response to Trump’s proposed deportations.
“This week, the House will advance strong border legislation, which protects vulnerable children and keeps America safe as it honors our values,” Pelosi said in a statement.