The Artless of the Deal

Just when you think it can’t get any crazier, Donald Trump raised the level of crazy to new heights. Tuesday night, the Trump campaign announced a hastily-arranged trip to Mexico to meet with President Enrique Peña Nieto. The meeting would take place just hours before his major policy speech about immigration in Phoenix.

What was going on here? The trip seemed so risky for Trump. And why would Peña Nieto agree to this meeting? Was the Mexican president preparing to deliver a sucker punch to the man who repeatedly denigrated his country and insulted its citizens?

Wednesday morning, Trump ditched the press corps and flew to Mexico City. For an hour or so, he met in private with the president of the country that is our 3rd largest trading partner in the world.

After their meeting, they stood, side-by-side on the stage, in front of whatever members of the press happened to be in the neighborhood. They jointly reported on their “productive” meeting.

They agreed they would try to work together to find common ground if Trump becomes president. Later, they disagreed about whether the question of who will pay for the wall ever came up. Trump said no, Peña Nieto said it did and that he told Trump there was no way. But overall, it seemed like a very amicable meeting.

Turns out, there was no sucker punch.

Simply by standing on the stage with the candidate for president, Peña Nieto actually made Donald Trump seem presidential — an accomplishment that even Trump himself has been unable to achieve.

Trump triumphantly boarded Air Trump One for the flight to Phoenix where he finally was going to explain his immigration policy in clear and precise terms. After that friendly meeting with Peña Nieto, what was he going to announce? Would he find some compromise to help gain support from the undecideds? Seemed logical.

Then, in that Phoenix arena filled with thousands of supporters, the sucker punch came, not from President Peña Nieto but from Donald Trump himself. Inexplicitly, Donald Trump quadrupled down on his anti-immigrant, anti-Mexican rhetoric just when he might have gotten swing-voting suburbanites to wonder if they may have been overly critical of this Trump phenomenon.

In reality, Donald Trump quadrupled down on his total lack of qualification to be President of the United States. When it comes to our international relationships, we can’t afford a Commander-in-Chief who constantly snatches defeat out of the jaws of victory.

Donald Trump simply reconfirmed that he can’t resist rabid devotees, even at his own expense. When he appears in front of a cheering crowd, he becomes possessed by it. He had an opportunity to sway swing voters Wednesday night in Phoenix but instead he bolted into the welcoming, adoring arms of his most fervent and loyal supporters who would vote for him anyway, even if he really did shoot someone on Fifth Avenue.