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As Government Returns to Work….
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As Government Returns to Work….

KAHNTENTIONS

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

At the end of the government shut-down, Donald Trump ended up exactly where he started when he rejected a deal that the Vice President had negotiated with Congress one month ago.  Eight hundred thousand government workers could have avoided the pain and suffering that Trump dealt them and their families. Now the President will need to make a deal with the Democrats or spend months in Court if he declares a national emergency in order to re-program monies to build the wall.

This entire episode brought home everything that people have been saying about the President. Donald Trump does not know how to make a deal. For Trump the renowned political scientist of the 20th Century Harold Lasswell was wrong in his classic definition that politics is “who gets what, when, and how.” Implicit in Lasswell’s definition is the art of compromise. No one get everything but everyone gets something. For Trump, however, that is not how he believes politics should be played. For the President a deal means that he won, otherwise it is no deal. In his latest stand-off with Congress, President Trump failed.

The challenge is whether the President can bounce back. Can Trump now show he has character and can demonstrate presidential leadership?  For two years, this has not been his modus operandi; but it is how Washington has always worked and how Presidents traditionally succeed.

There are ways now for both sides to formulate a deal. Pence knows it as does Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. It ultimately will require more money for border security, no wall, and, perhaps, a commission to study the feasibility and nature of some kind of wall to be considered at a later time. If Trump allows himself to accept a non-wall solution, he can escape with no more shut-downs and time to re-motivate his base. If Trump rejects a deal worked out by the conference committee and/or moves to invoke emergency powers, he will have doubled down on his failed leadership.

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Political Footnote

What is driving Howard Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks, to establish an exploratory committee for a run for President in 2020; but to do so as an independent? Presumably, he watched Michael Bloomberg opt out from running as an independent for President in 2016, despite the fact he too had great personal wealth like Schultz, but unlike Schultz also had considerable political experience. Does Schulz actually believe that he has greater political acumen that leads him to conclude that if he runs as an independent he could win enough electoral votes to defeat both Trump and a Democratic candidate in 2020?

If Schultz believes he has a true message and is electable, he needs to get into the Democratic donnybrook which undoubtedly will ensue when the Democratic candidates begin their battle for the nomination. Assuming Schultz actually decides to run as an independent, the only likelihood of such a race would be to undercut the Democratic candidate and probably facilitate Trump’s re-election.

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