Trump and the Art of the Political Deal

It’s becoming increasingly amusing to watch the chattering class continue to struggle with the question, What’s Donald Trump Really After? I’m no more of a mind reader than the rest of them, but I think The Donald has given us more than a few clues along the way. Just last week I sat down with Rick Moran on his show and discussed this in detail. If the rest of the GOP field really wanted to be ready for Trump and to know how to handle his sudden rise to political prominence, they really needed to look no further than his book, The Art of the Deal, and a few lectures of his which I attended in his pre-political incarnations. He’s approaching this in the exact same fashion he takes on any business challenge in a hostile environment.

  1. Identify a niche market to exploit
  2. Drive a wedge between you and your competitors
  3. Use that wedge to open a space allowing the customers to come to you

First he identifies the niche market to exploit: Birthers. And lest we forget the most important sector here, the birther curious. Are there a majority of Americans who fall into these categories? Obviously not. But that’s not the game being played right now. Trump doesn’t need to win over half the voters in the country yet. He doesn’t even need to win over half the Republicans. It’s a crowded field at this stage and all you need to do is ring up some numbers above 20% with likely primary voters and you’re either in first place or close to it. And even the latest polls during the time period Donald was considering a run show that you can beat that number easily with only this niche market.

Second, he uses that niche advantage to drive a wedge between him and his competitors. In this case his “competitors” are the rest of the serious contenders for the 2012 nomination. And they have almost uniformly run away from the birther issue like pigs from the gun because they don’t want to come across as, well… crazy. Not The Donald. He embraces it. And for a big enough slice of the primary electoral pie chart, he’s suddenly the only game in town.

Finally, he uses that wedge to create a space for the customers to come to him. The “customers,” of course, are the likely GOP primary voters. So how well has this worked? Yet another poll came out this week showing Trump moving into the lead.

This is classic Trump! Talk about telegraphing your punches… it’s The Art of the Deal line for line. So does this mean that The Donald is actually running? The magic 8-Ball says, “Ask again later.” I remain firmly convinced that Trump’s plan all along was for this to be a massive stunt. He can let it be known that the final episode of The Apprentice will have some clues and that immediately following the airing of the show – when he can “legally” campaign – there will be an announcement. At that time he could simply apologize to his followers, proclaiming that the Beltway system is “too broken” for even him to fix and bow out after scoring Superbowl level numbers for his reality show and vastly boosting his international image for upcoming deals. And he may still do just that.

But maybe not.

Trump can read a poll as well as anyone else. It’s looking more and more like he might actually be able to pull this off. And knowing what we know of his personality and appetite, if there is that big of a brass ring hanging apparently within range of his grasp, would Donald John Trump Sr. be able to pass it by? If he thinks he can win he may very well abandon the stunt and actually go for it.

Now, the more sane among you are, at this point, probably asking the obvious question. “That’s all well and good, to take the birther route to the GOP nomination, but what about the general election where the middle will tend to eschew the crazy candidates?”

Good question, but there’s already an answer.

If you backtrack through the hyperbolic media coverage of Trump’s “candidacy” you will note one important fact. Not once has The Donald actually stated that Obama was not a natural born citizen, nor that he was born in Kenya, nor that he wasn’t qualified to be president. He’s just said that he recently found the question “interesting” and that he had people on the job “investigating” it. He never said that Obama had “pulled off the greatest scam in American history.” He said that if this were true then it would be the greatest scam ever.

Hence, once he nails down the nomination, he waits a respectable few days, calls back his “investigators” from the Honolulu Hilton, and sadly announces to the nation that there were no conclusive results and that we need to assume that Barack Obama was qualified to take office. This is followed by an immediate 90 degree pivot and he’s on to talking about what a terrible job Obama has done and why he shouldn’t be given a second term.

Should any reporters or debate moderators bring up the uncomfortable topic of all the birther talk during the primary, the answer is baked into the cake. He simply informs them that it was a question worth digging into and at least he was willing to do the digging the media would not do and, for that matter, why does Donald Trump have to do your job for you?

It’s genius. Pure and simple.

It’s The Art of the Deal all over again folks. And thus far, it’s showing that The Donald isn’t nearly as dumb or as much of a clown as most of the media and his establishment GOP opponents would like to have us believe he is. Hang on to your hats. Donald Trump just may BS and waltz his way into being the next president. Sound crazy? Think back for a moment to that scene from Back to the Future when Doc Brown was informed that the President of the United States was the star of Bedtime for Bonzo.

Pretty crazy, huh?