Trump Gets an A+: Entertaining Prime Minister Abe the right way

This is what negotiations look like. I have wanted to see this for years and I watched most of the day with all the wonders that my new iPhone 7 could provide.  Let me just say that the iPhone 7 Plus is a fantastic device.  It literally gives me the world in the palm of my hand better than anything ever has.  I’m extremely impressed with it.  Anyway, because of it, I was able to watch my president wine and dine the Japanese Prime Minister Abe nearly all of Friday and Saturday.  After two days of observation, I gave President Trump an A+ on his accomplishments.  Whoever was worried about tearing up the TPP deal severely underestimated Donald Trump.  The man worked a magic that maybe a handful of people in the entire world understood as it was happening and it was a beautiful site.  Let me explain.

After a day of treating Prime Minister Abe and his wife to the extensive trappings of the White House with a joint press conference around 1 PM Trump used the tax payer funded quarters to rain dignity on his Japanese guests.  If the visit had ended there it would have matched the best of all previous efforts by other presidents not so gifted with Donald Trump’s other accomplishments, and the meeting would have been a success.  But Donald Trump was just getting started.  Here’s where things get interesting.

For dinner Trump didn’t hang around the White House to have a big banquette style state affair the way one might have expected—he flew in Melania who greeted them at the airport for a trip down to Mar-a-Lago—the “winter White House” as its now called for a very luxurious dinner in a much more exotic setting—which was fully owned by the President.  The symbolism of this was quite stunning.  Trump turned toward his own luxurious properties, not the tax payer funded White House to show Abe and his wife a nice weekend—which no doubt deeply impressed the Japanese Prime Minister.  One thing you can say that is stereotypically complementary about the Japanese is that they admire personal achievement and the trappings of wealth won through extremely hard work—and Trump obviously understands that after years of successful negotiations.  The best foot to stand on in negotiations isn’t fluffy exuberance exhibited on the coattails of those who came before you; it is through your own merit.  That is a huge difference.

From there the two couples sat down for dinner at Mar-a-Lago and were joined at that table by Bob Craft, the owner of the recent Super Bowl champions the New England Patriots as they were surrounded with Trump’s luxurious personal resort and many truly successful people from American industry.  After a day of Washington D.C. cold and fairly confined quarters within the few city blocks the White House sits on Trump had put Abe into the lush tropical reassurance of a warm Florida evening surrounded by competence—in the same day.  The psychological impact of this is that this American president was bigger than just the tax payer supplies provided by the people and was functioning off the merits of his own personal successes.

After retiring for the night enchanted Trump took Abe out for some golf on his private course on Saturday further driving home the point that this American president was something special and brought with him into the White House vast experience and great wealth.  After all, Abe had dinner the night before with a supermodel first lady, the winner of the latest Superbowl and the man who had just won the most shocking presidential election in American history at a resort not owned by some big donor friend—but by the president himself.  He was his own man and everything around him had been built by him.  And now Abe was out in the nice Florida sun playing golf with that same man leisurely talking about big, big things in the world from the psychological comfort of one of the best golf courses in the world.

How about all that trouble with North Korea—what to do about the currency devaluations in China, and how to apply a squeeze play on them over the South China Sea aggressions?  Take a sip of water, admire the sun on the horizon of the well tended grass of the course and line up a shot for birdie.  How about getting more Japanese investment into the “safe” lands of America as opposed to the very crowded mainland of Japan with aggressive neighbors and potential earthquakes threatening those investments back home—“how about making Japan the 51st state and we can do this all the time—just kidding.” (cough) “maybe not, let’s get to the next hole, nice shooting.”

It would be impossible for Abe to leave back to Japan with his wife without this trip to visit Trump as being one of the best things he had ever done at any point in his life. A weekend visit to the White House then Mar-a-Lago under the premise of a very successful rock star celebrity like Trump and all the trappings of success earned well before the man ever became president of the United States would have been enough.  But to walk away as friends who shared such an exuberant, and honest experience together are the kind of bonds that extend well beyond signatures on a treaty of any kind.  There was honor earned in the experience which extends well into the diplomacy that runs the world and it was simply beautiful to witness.

There are lots of tactical reasons the United States would want to earn the real friendship of Japan.  The Japanese are very hard working people and it’s always good to know such people on a friendly basis.  And along the Asian corridor which is mostly communist led countries, like Vietnam, China and North Korea all united in the region toward collectivist—and hostile aims—Japan is the most like us.  Also, a good friendship with them launches respectable relationships with Russia.  And if friendship with Russia is achieved then China is cut off in its influence to the north and North Korea loses some of its important cover—and so does Iran.  So there’s a lot going on with that simple golf trip on a Saturday afternoon at Mar-a-Lago.

But no president but Trump could have done it in the history of our republic and that makes it vastly different than the many golf trips Obama took where people were invited to play with him, but it was more out of celebrity than productivity.  With Trump, he has been there and done that and Mar-a-lago served like an exhibition of a great hunters’ trophies on the wall to prove that the man talking had been to wonderful places and done great things providing a foundation for negotiations that were well beyond the earning trust phase—which Obama never achieved with any world leader in his entire eight years, or Bush achieved in his eight years—or Clinton ever hoped at any point.  Each of those previous efforts came out looking like tax payer funded exuberance whereas Trump doesn’t even take a paycheck for this job he’s doing and Mar-a-lago was his own property, so essentially the expense was on him—at least the way it looks to a foreign dignitary.  And the world was watching closely, in every corner of it—just as I was on my wonderful iPhone 7 Plus.  It was really something to see for those with the wherewithal to examine what was happening and how different it was on the world stage this early in the 21st Century.

Rich Hoffman


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