This is the story of the time Donald Trump went down to Mexico to change the narrative about not being presidential and made such a huge misstep that he forced an ally to call him out for lying.
The Clinton campaign put out a new video Friday morning that is a brutal take down of Donald Trump’s disastrous visit with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. Its end is rather devastating, “As a candidate, Donald Trump has already embarrassed us on the world stage. Imagine him as president.”
The ad highlights how Donald Trump’s campaign is centered on “the wall” that he claims he’s going to get Mexico to pay for. (This is like running for president of the 7th grade on getting a great new football field built that the high school will pay for – yes, it’s absurd on so many levels.)
So Trump goes down to Mexico to play statesman and what happens? He doesn’t negotiate for the payment of this wall. He says, “We did discuss the wall, we didn’t discuss payment of the wall.”
Then Peña Nieto, an ally the Clinton ad points out, emphatically and repeatedly corrected Trump, saying he told Trump in no uncertain terms that Mexico would not be paying for the wall.
Oopsie! The centerpiece of the Trump campaign is down, and Trump busted for lying on the world stage on his first statesman attempt. Trump even admitted later that Peña Nieto told him Mexico wouldn’t be paying for the wall.
The problem here isn’t just that no sane person ever thought Mexico would be paying for Donald Trump’s “wall”.
The problem with Donald Trump’s claim that the cost wasn’t discussed is he embarrassed the Mexican president and made him appear weak in front of his people. This isn’t the way you “negotiate” with an ally.
Donald Trump doesn’t even understand diplomacy 101. What does the other person need, what do they want, what might get them to be open to hearing what Trump wants — these are not questions Donald Trump even knows to ask.
Because Donald Trump is not an negotiator or a “dealer”, in spite of his own self-imaginings. Donald Trump is a playground bully backed up by a team of high paid lawyers who cover his tracks and intimidate opponents (i.e., workers Trump doesn’t want to pay, etc).
But Trump’s team of thugs can’t force the Mexican president to abandon his own cause. That’s not how things work on the world stage.
No one knows better than Hillary Clinton just how things work on the world stage, so it’s completely justified for her to call Trump out for this failure.
Trump made not just a rookie mistake, but a mistake that revealed his fatal flaw; Donald Trump is so desperately self-absorbed that he can’t see other people. And yet a leader is supposed to protect the rights of their people while negotiating on the world stage with allies and foes. In other words, the job description involves seeing other people. It’s supposed to be all about the people, in fact.
Donald Trump actually thought the Mexican president would be happy to be yet another prop for Trump. Trump thought he could lie about what he and an ally discussed, because Trump is used to his imaginary claims being accepted as fact.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.