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bullyDon’t We Already Have Enough Enemies?

It seems like Trump is just itching to pick a fight with Mexico, gratuitously behaving like nothing more than an obnoxious bully, unnecessarily kicking sand in Mexico’s face.  Like a real showoff.

Who does Trump think he’s representing when he behaves this way, like a classic “Ugly American”? Maybe some of those who voted for him. But that’s no excuse for treating Mexico like an enemy, like . . . some ISIS thug.

I can’t imagine that Trump’s expressing the prevailing American sentiment in the way he’s treating Mexico over who should pay for . . . the wall. I suspect that most Americans think of Mexico as a neighbor, a friend. This is not how one treat’s one’s friends. Trump is embarrassing America.

Trump says a country without borders is not a country. I agree with that. I’m sure most Americans do as well.

But Mexico is a friend, a neighbor, not the enemy. Trump shouldn’t start by kicking sand in Mexico’s face. He should at least try to work with Mexico to fix our common border problems. Do we need a wall? Maybe so. Maybe not a bad idea. But does that mean Mexico should pay for it? All of it?

As a lawyer with more than 50 years of experience in resolving disputes, I learned a long time ago that sugar generally works better than vinegar when there is a difference to be resolved, a gap to be closed. At the very least, one should always try sugar first.

Trump has not done that with Mexico. He’s gone straight to vinegar. How does he expect Mexico to react to that kind of treatment? Like any other country worth its salt, Mexico is going to resist that kind of behavior. I would. They should. And most of the world will rally behind Mexico, starting with most, if not all, of Latin America.

I thought Trump was supposed to be the expert negotiator. Does he really believe his approach with Mexico so far is calculated to achieve a positive outcome? Even if Mexico ultimately has to buckle under and pay for the wall, it will never forgive the U.S. for treating it this way.

Who does Trump think he’s impressing, behaving this way? Maybe some of his supporters, but probably not the majority of Americans. At least, I hope not.

I was raised to use compromise and mutual respect to work through differences with friends. If we need to have a wall, why not propose to Mexico, “Hey, how about we split the cost fifty-fifty? If that doesn’t work for you, what do you think would be fair?” If Mexico fails to respond in kind, in good faith, that’s soon enough to move from sugar to vinegar. I could support that. Be nice. Give Mexico a chance to do the right thing too. To work with America on this issue.

But I can’t support Trump’s “Ugly American” bully tactics. That’s just not the way to win friends and influence people. In this day and age, we don’t need more enemies. We already have enough. Some things are unavoidable, like improving our vetting processes before we allow those not genuinely committed to America to migrate here. Kicking sand in Mexico’s face is not one of those unavoidable circumstances.

Editor’s Note: Now that Trump has straightened out Mexico, it was revealed yesterday that this past weekend he moved on to putting another one of our allies in place, this time Australia. Seems Trump is upset that Australia is holding the U.S. to a deal the two allies made before Trump became President that requires the U.S. to take 1,250 refugees off of Australia’s hands. Trump doesn’t like the deal and doesn’t want to honor it. He may have no choice, but he isn’t happy about it and he went out of his way to let Australia’s prime minister know it in their scheduled telephone conversation last Saturday. Even though Prime Minister Turnbull offered to soften the agreement by volunteering that the U.S. would only need to admit the refugees after they were fully vetted to the Trump administration’s satisfaction (which seems remarkably gracious),Trump apparently wanted Australia to drop the agreement altogether simply because he doesn’t like it. When Trump didn’t get what he wanted, he reportedly had a hissy fit and gratuitously told Turnbull their conversation was the worst conversation he has had with a world leader since taking office and he then ended the call before taking up the other topics scheduled for discussion. Sadly, Trump seems to feel that he can treat heads of state like they are nothing more than one of his painting subcontractors, placing more importance on renegotiating whatever he doesn’t like than maintaining long standing, vital relationships with our closest allies. Turnbull tactfully declined to publicly reveal the content of his and Trump’s conversation, pointing out that such conversations are and should be private. In contrast, “anonymous” persons in the Trump administration with personal knowledge of the call actually bragged publicly yesterday about how Trump had put Turnbull in his place. Attaboy Donald. Tweet to follow, no doubt. At this rate, Trump and his “two Steves” (policy wonks Steve Bannon and Steve Miller) will soon have difficulty finding a fourth for bridge, let alone preserving relationships with any of our traditional allies, or even “his” own Republican Party. If he’s not careful, he may make it difficult to get his Supreme Court nominee confirmed, which is the one good thing I thought might come of his presidency. Someone needs to tell Trump that the Supreme Court appointment “advise and consent” process requires more than Trump’s nomination, and the approval of his two Steves. (Remember, I didn’t vote for Donald or Hillary.)

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  • Jose Sigal

    Dear Ronaldo, as we have discussed I was also concerned with both candidates. This is what we got. I still believe it is too soon to judge President Trump. He does several things we like and several things we hate. Because we really don’t know what’s going on at that level of governing, I think we have to give it some time. It could just be some posturing with the world, that there is a new, tough sheriff in town. We had eight years of weakness with President Obama. President Trump doesn’t want to be confused with that weakness.

    Let me give you a crazy thought. This posturing with Mexico is improving Mexican President Pena Nieto’s lowest approval rating ever of any Mexican president . If his rating remains so low it creates a very high risk that Lopez Obrador will win the next election. Obrador could potentially be as bad as Chavez of Venezuela. Perhaps Trump and Pena Nieto are privately working together because Trump understands that Pena Nieto is better for both Mexico and the U.S. than Obrador would be. Just a wild idea because when things really don’t make sense there usually has to be an angle in the background. HOPEFULLY, but too soon to tell.

    • That’s giving Trump a lot more credit than he seems to deserve, at least so far. First, he appears very myopic, concerned only about his agenda and not anyone else’s. Second, he doesn’t seem to be very well informed and I’m not sure he has any sense of how dangerous Obrador could be. Third, unwisely, he doesn’t seem to have any sense of fear, figuring he could handle Obrador like one of his painting subs. But, I hope you’re right. I always enjoy your thoughts, especially when it concerns our neighbors to the south.

  • Jane S Taber

    Perhaps Trump has seen our weak Willy Billy kow towing approach for eight years. There is something in strength to power. God knows the Muslims take anything less as a weakness.

    Mexico eases their burden when their poor are permitted go across the border. And when Mexico does not control their drug lords, that causes us a lot of trouble. Just how much is Mexico our friend? . . . That relationship may be wanting.

    Maybe Trump is being bad cop good cop. Before we can criticize his behavior….let’s see what results his approach accomplishes.

    America has bent over enough.

    • You make some good points, Jane. We certainly have had eight years of bending over and what good has that done us? Maybe Trump is playing bad cop, good cop. I completely agree we have to give Trump a chance.

      So far, Trump’s biggest weakness in my opinion has been his failure to communicate effectively, if at all. He got off to an incredibly poor start with his executive order on immigration constraints, not so much because of the substance of what he was trying to do, which the liberal media, and the liberals in general, have overblown, but because he leaped before he looked, not thinking it through carefully enough and not seeking enough input before acting. In the case of the 1,250 refugee handoff from Australia, a deeper look shows that Prime Minister Turnbull’s refugee policy is much more vulnerable than appears on the surface. Trump may have been aware of this, but–again–he did a very poor job in how he presented it.

      If Trump wants to play the ultimate tough guy, he needs to do a better job of explaining his actions to the American public. It requires more than 140 character Twitter soundbites if he wants to win over more than just his ardent supporters.

      On a brighter note, at least for me, he does seem to be acting a bit more presidential on some of his more recent pronouncements. On dismantling Dodd-Frank Wall Street regulations, he’s proceeding more cautiously than he suggested in his campaign rhetoric, now announcing that he will first seek input from a broader circle of experts than he did originally. He may or may not listen to them, but, at a minimum, it looks wiser and more presidential.

      And his reaction yesterday to the broader injunction on his immigration executive order by the Washington State judge also showed promise. HIs opening knee-jerk reaction to that decision was that it was “outrageously incorrect,” and that he will fight it. Shortly thereafter, he edited the tweet to remove the word “outrageously.” All writers know that adjectives get one in trouble, and are to be avoided. Less is more. Hopefully, Trump may be learning that not everything is the best, the worst, outrageous. Those words don’t help. Good or bad is not only enough, but is the better way to put it. Unnecessary exaggeration does not build credibility.

      I agree, the only responsible way to approach Trump is to give him a chance to settle in, to learn how to be more effective, rather than . . . outrageous.