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Deciphering the Short-fingered Vulgarian *

Uploaded: Mar 7, 2016

I understand Donald Trump. I’m not sure I’m happy or proud about it, and I’m a little ashamed that it took me this long. The entire punditocracy, though, has been preoccupied with explaining his enduring appeal, ever since they stopped assuring us that his candidacy was certain to be temporary. The answer has been obvious, all along.

Mr. Trump is not running for office – he’s negotiating a deal. A big one – Yuge! The biggest, even, but not unlike hundreds of others in his checkered business career. Or so he hopes.

To understand this, we need a short detour through bargaining school. Negotiators come in three species: Competitive, Cooperative and Collaborative. And every negotiation is a mixture of two elements: the thing over which a deal may be struck (a used car, a vacation destination, a casino) and the relationship between the Parties. Sometimes the subject matter predominates, as in the car example, and sometimes it’s all about the relationship – your interest in your Significant Other’s satisfaction with a vacation spot may, ahem, trump your concern for the specific geography.

To continue our short-course, each breed of bargainer has his own approach, goals, tactics, outcomes and implications for the future. It’s important to know with whom you’re dealing, in order to anticipate that person’s next moves. For Competitors, it’s all a game – a chess or tennis match, and a contest distinct from everything else. The goal is to win. Period. Tactics include extreme opening positions, and may** include ongoing aggression, bluster and bluff. They may also include deception, exaggeration and outright lying, because after all, this is just a war game in which all’s fair in pursuit of victory.

And those immediate outcomes? They tend to be very good ones. This is especially true when dealing with a Cooperative negotiator on the other side, as well as in any bargaining where the ‘thing’ predominates (rapport be damned, because doesn’t everybody realize it’s just a game?). The relationship fraction of the deal suffers as trust is lost, a bad outcome is imposed, and rough tactics are filed away for the future.

In a world of unlimited discrete deal opportunities, Competitors do quite well. Over time, or in repeat situations -- not so much. Recognize anybody yet?

Candidate Voldetrump embodies the ultimate Competitor, and that helps to explain his behaviors. Is there lots of chest-thumping in advance – yes. Is this all a game? Indeed, and that approach accounts for why he can say – and even believe – that “when this is all over, you’ll see I’m actually a great unifier.” He clearly sees the campaign as a distinct game from the process of governing, as he promises a different approach than his candidate (or TV – ‘you’re fired’) persona. Of course he does.***

What clinches this model for me, though, is his general approach on policy – the positions he takes on issues. We’ve come to expect that candidates will bring forward specific examples of what they’ll do if elected. We expect those initiatives to fit into a philosophical approach that is sustained over time. Indeed, that’s why Bernie is trusted (and Marco and Hillary may not be) – he’s the same democratic socialist who got arrested for it in the 1960s.

To Candidate Trump, however, policy statements are nothing more than extreme opening positions. He’d like it if they worked as stated, but he’d be quite willing to make concessions for those bellicosities if they are ineffective as originally stated. Thus, he’s been quick to back-away from statements that were simply too extreme to anchor the debate.**** Trumpian policies are not intended to be immutable, or to fit nicely into a governing philosophy. They are simply ‘means’ intended to be effective in helping him achieve the ultimate ‘end’ goal – winning. Remember, that’s all that matters.

The partisan political process, where the currency is supposed to be ideas, is finding this amoral approach to be confounding, because it renders him exceptionally slippery. Think you’ve got him caught in an inconsistency – no matter, he’ll change it – no regrets, no shame, see ya later … Loser.

But here’s the cautionary note for political Competitors – they achieve excellent immediate results, which is nearly all that matters in something like a real estate deal. But Competitors don’t wear well, over time or in repeat deals. The tactics that worked once do not endure, as the Opposition learns, chafes and stiffens its back. Two-or-more can play the Competitor’s game, even if it’s not most people’s first choice (most bargainers are Cooperators by nature, and some learn to be Collaborators). As trust is lost and position changes are revealed to be bluffs exposed, credibility suffers, and that’s important – yuge!

From this vantage, it appears that the plutocrat wing of the GOP is belatedly uniting in opposition, learning to play Mr. Trump’s game, and competing. It seems most likely that they will weaken their opponent, whose margins of support will narrow, but not enough to deny him the nomination.

Basically, they lack any attractive alternatives – they hate Mr. Cruz with nearly equal passion, the anointed Jeb! is gone, Mr. Rubio is exposed as a glib dilettante, and the substantial Gov. Kasich just can’t seem to catch fire. Mitt Romney has recently reminded us of his perpetual availability, but could he ever escape the pungent image of supplicating before The Donald for a 2012 donation? That might leave Mr. 40-hour/week Ryan, as I mentioned in an earlier edition, but does he really have the stomach for this extended fight, and will ‘compromise’ hold the interest of the Trumpophiles?

If Mr. Trump does emerge from Cleveland with the nomination, his game will have been exposed.***** That will make it extremely difficult for him to maintain it through the November elections. An effective Competitor tries to adapt, and take what the game will give him. But he can’t fundamentally change his approach, because bluster got him his supporters, and no one else will believe in a different persona. He can’t pivot to a disbelieving center without losing his base.

Some deals just won't close.



* As reported by NPR, this was the label applied to Mr. Trump by the founders of the late, satiric Spy magazine in New York, believing he epitomized everything that was crass and ascendant in The City of the 1980s. The nickname stuck, and he hated it publicly -- so when you hear the candidate say nobody ever attacked his hands before, well … just remember that Competitors assume and hope for short memories.

** But not always – extremely effective competitors can take you to the cleaners so capably that you actually enjoy the trip. Fortunately for everybody else, they are a rare breed.

*** It’s also true that he has already succeeded in unifying his opposition within the remnants of the once Grand Old Party, but that’s probably not what he had in mind when he spoke.

**** ‘Anchoring’ is an early move in negotiation – it represents seeking the position that is taken seriously by the other side, which will form the basis for further discussions. A position too extreme will not set the anchor, as it’s not credible. But if you can set it close to where you want to end-up, it’s the single most effective move (among many others) in the deal-making process.

***** There is a defense tactic in negotiation called 'naming the game.' When somebody's working you -- hollering, name-calling, or using any others among the myriad of competitive ploys to put you under emotional pressure -- and you realize it, those ploys lose much of their power over you.

Comments

 +   21 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Mar 8, 2016 at 10:11 am

This election is about uncontrolled rage, shaming, name calling, public humiliation/verbal abuse, physical threats, hiding behind the mike in a public arena when cameras are rolling, entitlement, shoving dissenters, racism, homophobia, and distorted white privilege. And, disrespecting the US Constitution.

There are lots of Americans that are nuts, just like Trump.




 +   3 people like this
Posted by Kyle, a resident of Danville,
on Mar 9, 2016 at 2:28 am

Po, po 'lil Cholo. Just an angry little wimp with a leftist agenda. Go away man. Fade off.


 +   11 people like this
Posted by Tom Cushing, a DanvilleSanRamon.com blogger,
on Mar 9, 2016 at 6:44 am

Tom Cushing is a registered user.

I am leaving Kyle's comment up, for the time being, not because it deserves it under the rules -- after all, it's a crude personal attack on another poster. The Powers here prefer that comments actually relate to the subject of the blog, so it may disappear at any time -- I'm just the level 1 moderator.

That said, cholo's been called worse on these boards, and I'm guessing s/he's accustomed to it. Besides, in an unintended way, it demonstrates cholo's point about "rage, shaming, name-calling and verbal abuse."

So I'm leaving it up because it's so ... so downright Trumpian. He couldn't have said it better, himself.

Finally though, I do not intend to referee a flame war -- 'anything' would be a better use of my time. If this line of insult continues, it Will Be hammer time.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Mar 9, 2016 at 1:57 pm

no no no...haven't you heard? I'm all caught up writing fan letters to my favorite stars on Downton Abbey!

I have no time to fight with anybody...however, I would like to politely suggest that somebody contact the chubette Ms.Patmore and request that she cook you up some pork chops 'n raisins...yum yum plenty!

Also, I stick by my belief that Trump is a very disturbed presidential candidate with an Axix II Dx-Mixed. Tragic but true.

Hopefully, I can get a few notes off to President Obama before he flies to Cuba. a person's work work is never done...whew


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by SHale99, a resident of another community,
on Mar 9, 2016 at 2:41 pm

SHale99 is a registered user.

Somebody uses this area as their personal chat room. Off topic too.

Anyway, what is truly scary if Trump does become President (polls show it would a close race between him and Clinton) would he become presidential, or continue his current behavior? Does he even understand as President he can't do/say what he wants with no consequences?
He is an outsider and certainly would owe no favors to any donors....but... can he sit in the oval and 'become' a President? Voters (so far) seem to think so.....


 +   8 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Mar 9, 2016 at 4:16 pm

I don't believe that Trump has any credibility that he can lead the USA. There's no question that he knows how to make money. To ask educated American voters to "trust me" makes absolutely no sense. It seems that somebody would have to be half jelly fish to vote him into the White House. His followers are largely ignorant and want to believe that somebody is telling them the truth...NOT!

How does one who is so out of control become "presidential"? I fail to understand how one transforms and becomes "presidential"? Please help us all understand that process. Does the process of transformation involve a voodoo doll and pins?

The impressions of millions of American voters have not been explored. As the debate grows re: his suitability, the truth will out. "Believe me...you can trust me.? duh...

I have known some hostile and very emotionally ill/deelply disturbed individuals and the Trump tops the list. Reasonable people rebel against his kind of manipulation and hate of innocent human beings.

He does indeed have small and his reach does not extend into the more reasonable and educated Americans. tragic figure...his time for looking Presidential of OVER.








 +   3 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Mar 9, 2016 at 4:19 pm

Correction: He does indeed have small hands and his reach does not extend into the lives of decent and educated Americans.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by SHale99, a resident of another community,
on Mar 9, 2016 at 6:21 pm

SHale99 is a registered user.

Cholo: Huh? go back and read again my comment. IF elected (and that is a possibility) could he suddenly 'become' Presidential in behavior vs what he is doing now to 'get' elected? It was only a bit 'tongue in cheek', which I guess you missed completely. :)

You are aware he is currently in the lead with delegates, yea? And winning bigger states. Those are people voting, not 'jelly fish'. And so far many of them are voting FOR Trump. Will they vote for him in the general election? Open question.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by John, a resident of Danville,
on Mar 9, 2016 at 8:46 pm

Web Link


 +   8 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Mar 10, 2016 at 11:12 am

I don't believe that there's a reasonable possibility that Trump will be elected. If you think that the Democrats have baggage, wait until the dump truck unloads Trump's secret history.

I doubt that healthy adults can dismiss his comments re: M. Kelly. He comes across as a man who is willing to abuse ALL women. There's no excuse for his hostile behavior towards other human beings and I find him scary and repulsive.

The position of the President of the United States requires a different kind of individual, personality. Money and TV personality has a place in American culture but not as the leader of the free world. The Trump will fail because his personality is simply too fragmented and his behavior is too impulsive.

His current wife and 2 sons also pack a bunch of garbage. His sons are overtly hostile and defensive re: anybody that disagrees with them. As for the current Mrs. Trump, she has history of ripping off her clothes for the cameras at the drop of a hat...not the kind of First Lady that I want to see in the White House. Her presence is always sexualized. I'm waiting to hear something redeeming about Mrs. Trump. I don't find her the least bit attractive. In fact, I perceive her as damaged goods.

gotta go...









 +   2 people like this
Posted by SHale99, a resident of another community,
on Mar 10, 2016 at 11:43 am

SHale99 is a registered user.

Cholo: Perhaps you should fire up google and look at polls that pit Trump vs Clinton.
It could not be said there is a wide gap between the 2.

so, yeah, real probability he could be elected.


 +   8 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Mar 10, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Too early for polls in a general election mean anything this early.

Cholo Pololo Mololo
Supreme Candidate Nominee!
HOORAY!!!


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Roz Rogoff, a resident of San Ramon,
on Mar 10, 2016 at 2:46 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Tom,

Good blog. I always love your writing style even when I don't always agree with you. I don't believe Trump really wants to be President. I think he wants to be in the Cabinet or in some other plumb position in the administration and his "Presidential" run is his negotiating tactic.

Come the Convention Trump will throw his support to whomever gives him the best deal. At least I hope that's his game. It sounds more like him than really wanting to be President.

Roz


 +   9 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Mar 10, 2016 at 4:21 pm

Oh Happy Day...Web Link

just sayin...


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Zenmonkman, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Mar 10, 2016 at 9:41 pm

Zenmonkman is a registered user.

I'm going to take a different tact on Trump. Most media people look at the man and judge him by his style. That's okay ... it's called "being Presidential". But there's a flip side to the coin I believe most people aren't acknowledging. Now before I begin, this is not an argument for or against Trump.

Any person that run for office in America is judged by THE VOTERS. A person walking in the room looking the part, sounding the part, but not getting the support of the voters gets nowhere. So, when we speak of Trump, we have to speak about the voters that are placing him where he is at, even after all the very bad things people say about him. He's not hoodwinking anyone, he's getting voting support. THAT'S DEMOCRACY IN ACTION.

Why are so many people missing the point of his candidacy? They shouldn't be talking about him, but about what he represents to voters. Why are voters backing him and not 17 other candidates who started the race? Let's discuss it by discussing first and foremost what this says about democracy. If you don't like Trump, then vote for someone else. If you do like him, then vote for him. You're not even obligated to tell anyone your voting record.

Let's get back to a DEMOCRATIC COUNTRY. Let's get back to understanding that voters are starting to talk ... regardless what the pundits say. If Trump exists for no other reason than to put pundits in their place ... well, I'm glad he's making noise to remind us of what our country represents.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Mar 11, 2016 at 8:21 am

It seems to me that Zen is trying to make the Trump invisible.

Signed,

grasshopper



 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Mar 11, 2016 at 8:32 am

Thanks for that moment of zen! The SFV's support has been remarkably consistent among voters all over the country. There seems to be some thought that the 35-40% of the 23% of overall GOP voters who support him in the primaries may be a ceiling, as he may not attract many Independents (39%) or Dems (32%).

But I do love to quote the zenmaster: Web Link (some rough language)


 +   13 people like this
Posted by Billie, a resident of Mohr Park,
on Mar 11, 2016 at 12:53 pm

Billie is a registered user.

It seems to me the Republican party is reaping exactly what they've sown over the last seven years.

Instead of earning their $174,000 base salary working for the good of the American people, and I mean all of us, the Republican-led Congress made it clear their focus was not, as Mr. Trump says ad infinitum, on "making America great again." Instead, according to Mitch McConnell, "[t]he single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." To that end, on those few days they were actually in session each year, our Do-Nothing Congress has spent it's time doing . . . nothing. No, wait! There were those *60+* attempts to repeal Obamacare - with neither success nor anything to replace it.

So along comes Donald Trump to fill the void and tell angry Republican voters what they want to hear. Mr. Trump says he will build a "great" wall with Mexico funding, bring jobs back from China and Mexico, fix the tax plan, and continue to make faith and religion an issue in his effort to "make America great again." I believe the last one, but as for the rest?

Mexico paying for the wall? In 2014, Mexico received $971.3M in foreign aid, up from $417.8M in 2013. And they're going to fund his "great" wall? Yeah, and I have a bridge . . . Web Link

Bring jobs back from China? Just not the jobs associated with the manufacture of his clothing lines - or evidently anyone else's in the same business. His excuse? "[T]hey devalue their currencies, in particular China. Mexico's doing a big number, Japan is unbelievable what they're doing and they make it impossible for clothing makers in this country to [make] clothing in this country." Nope, no hypocrisy there. Web Link

As for his tax plan, according to the WSJ, Mr. Trump's "great" tax plan will greatly "benefit the top 1% of households; those making over $732,323, would get 35% of the tax cuts." "The plan would cut rates on business income to 15%." On average, each middle-class "household would get a $5,144 tax cut in 2017, increasing after-tax income by 7.1%." I guess it's really "make America great again" for the wealthy. Web Link

Finally, there's the issue of faith and religion. Mr. Trump continues to ratchet up the hate rhetoric against Muslims. It wasn't enough to want to ban all Muslims, surveil and register American Muslims, and close Mosques. He's just gone further to say, "Islam hates us . . . There’s a tremendous hatred. We have to get to the bottom of it. There is an unbelievable hatred of us." Sounds like the same kind of vitriol used in 1942 when Japanese Americans were incarcerated in concentration camps. Or in the 1800s during the Native American death marches to desert reservations. And, yeah, it's not scary at all to watch the Trump faithful raise their right hands to pledge their loyalty to "the Donald".

Mr. Trump has shown himself to be a narcissistic schoolyard bully. He has gleefully brought hateful rhetoric and hands-on aggression against peaceful protesters to his campaign rallies. His demeaning taunts, condescending tone, and caricatures of those he holds in contempt have nothing to do with not being "politically correct", and all to do with a total lack of respect for anyone not stroking him with praise. No wonder he "loves the poorly educated" and they love him.

So, yeah, Republicans, you're reaping exactly what you've sown these last seven years. It's just too bad the whole country might have to suffer right along with you.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Mar 12, 2016 at 9:19 am

My primary concern today is to determine if Donald Trump can go to heaven?

Who can and who can't get in?

i rest my case...


 +   11 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Mar 12, 2016 at 11:04 am

Hi Roz....How have you come to believe that Trump doesn't want to be prez?

that's quite a leap...

signed,

pudlo and his best friend chili


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Lance, a resident of Walnut Creek,
on Mar 12, 2016 at 1:41 pm

Tom Cushing = Cholo. Hint, one and the same. He's done it before.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of another community,
on Mar 12, 2016 at 4:00 pm

Poor cholo. There's just no end to the indignities.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by SHale99, a resident of another community,
on Mar 13, 2016 at 9:04 am

SHale99 is a registered user.

I didn't realize this was a blog about Cholo? Or should I say the Cholos'?

This is not a private chat area for users looking to get entertained.


 +   13 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Mar 13, 2016 at 12:35 pm

TRUMP HUNTING LEGENDS! Web Link

ARE WE TALKING BRAVE AND COURAGEOUS HUNTERS?

yup...it runs in the Trump family...donald recommends shooting/killing Mexicans...is Trump a secret violent criminal? just askin"...


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Mar 13, 2016 at 1:30 pm

SHale: I know you're annoyed, but it IS avoidable, and mostly harmless. I have tried to moderate this thing generally with a relatively light touch. I think there's only one cholo (and BTW it's not me -- 'Lance' just feels the need to slip the needle occasionally).


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Mar 13, 2016 at 5:49 pm

There's no end to the posters that delight in blaming Cholo because they're unhappy...is there a polite way to suggest that unhappy fellas to this blog eat chocolate!

As for Hale Selassie, grow up. I'm willing to give you a chance to behave in a mature manner. Let's not forget that we live in a republic and that the USA is not a comfy nest for fascists.

If you feel a need to dominate others, go play DOMINOS.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Mar 13, 2016 at 8:04 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Tom.

Your descriptive "Vulgarian" is fitting.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Mar 14, 2016 at 11:57 am

Trump does indeed have small hands:

Web Link


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by SHale99, a resident of another community,
on Mar 14, 2016 at 7:48 pm

SHale99 is a registered user.

Cholo: Your notes are so entertaining. Off topic, but entertainment none the less.

Now, try hard to at least pretend to be on topic. Your age is showing when you drift. FOCUS.



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