NancyHas Nancy Pelosi overplayed her hand?
Last week, the battle between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Trump reached “epic proportions” per the media. After a series of public actions and reactions, Pelosi was declared as having achieved “total victory” over President Trump when Trump agreed to reopen the government and end the shutdown.
The actions that led to Pelosi’s claimed victory were:
- President Trump refused to allow Air Force planes to transport Pelosi and her cabal on a “fact finding tax payer paid junket” to Afghanistan, but with a stop in Brussels for “pilot rest.” (The pilot rest is an excuse. The plane could have had separate crews on board so any stop would not have been required except for refueling.)
- Pelosi responded by cancelling the State of the Union address because of “security concerns.”
- President Trump responded on Wednesday by letter than he would still go to Capital Hill on January 29 to give the speech.
- Pelosi responded by refusal to pass the legislation required for the State on the Union address to be held in the Capital to which President Trump capitulated by stating he would not give the SOTU speech until the shutdown ended.
- President does not carry through on his threat to use a Declaration of Emergency to start building the Border Wall.
- On Friday, after bi-partisan negotiations, Trump announced the end to the shutdown. No Border Wall funding is included, but is to be “negotiated” in the continuing talks to keep the government open after Feb 15.
- Pelosi responds by signing the Continuing Resolution using 8 pens so that she can gloat by providing her special friends with each of the pens.
- Pelosi then wonders aloud what “hold Putin has” over Trump.
- Pelosi refuses to allow the SOTU address on Jan 29, saying that it must come at a later date.
The media has gleefully reported the events of the week as Nancy’s epic win and that President Trump “caved” to Pelosi’s demands.
Conservative pundits like Ann Coulter, always looking to promote her flame throwing brand and books, once again proclaims that Trump has caved to Pelosi. Other conservatives join in. The Far Right throws their hat into the ring with calls for Trump to resign, or they will not vote for him in 2020, and with some even beginning to look for someone to “primary” Trump for the 2020 elections.
Since taking office in 1988, Pelosi has spent her entire time consolidating power in the House. She has used the “carrot and stick” most effectively, becoming the Leader of House Democrats in 2003 and taking the Speaker role for the first time in 2007. She is the defacto head of the Democratic Party at this time.
During her “reign”, Queen Pelosi has run rough shod over not just Republicans, but even her own party members who oppose her. Cross her, and you face “the Wrath of Nancy.” Side with her, and you receive the benefits she can bestow upon you.
Even those who favor President Trump must admit that it appears Pelosi has won the battle just fought. She has gotten everything she wanted, and the President has given in to her demands. But that view is short sighted at the very least.
For those who have engaged in high stakes negotiations, the opinion of Nancy’s victory may be very much different than what is being presented.
High stakes negotiations are not just “offer and acceptance” or “offer and compromise” positions. They involve very deliberate stances and tactics, often of which flow or ebb with the introduction of new facts or optics.
One of the key tactics of high stakes negotiations involves the “concept of winning.” In this tactic, you offer constant non-critical concessions that leads the other side to believe they are truly winning. So how is this working at the moment for President Trump?
President Trump’s goal has been to build a barrier on the southern border of the US to stop illegal immigrants coming across the border. Time and again, Congress has rebuffed his efforts to get the money for the wall, his signature “promise” of his 2016 campaign. As a result, Trump has had to change tactics, a common practice in high stakes negotiations.
The change in tactics was initially to shut down the government, laying off over 800,000 people. The hope was to bring the Democrats to the table to negotiate in good faith on a border wall. For 35 days, the government was shut down. It reopened ONLY because some Democrats began to see that the President was holding firm in shutting down the government and though he was losing support for the shutdown, the Democrats would begin to suffer as well.
The result of the shutdown was to bring the Democrats to the table to negotiate reopening the government. A compromise was achieved where the government would reopen for 21 days, until Feb 15, while further negotiations continued with respect to the border wall.
The reopening of the government has been a “net win” for the President. He had been in a deteriorating position with the government shutdown. While it was going on, there was no hope for achieving funding for a border wall. By the compromise, he eliminated the negativity of the shutdown, and he got a bi-partisan committee to work on the border wall issue.
By reopening the government, President Trump has changed the rules of the negotiations and sits in the superior position. Pelosi must now play on his turf.
There must now be a good faith effort by Pelosi and the Democrats to work on a border wall solution. If she engages in her normal actions, she risks another government shutdown where she and her party would then receive the blame. She also risks that President Trump could after Feb 15, declare that the Democrats were not negotiating in good faith.
On Feb 15, Trump has two options available to him. He could either allow another shutdown while declaring a National Emergency to build the wall on his own. Or Trump could allow another Continuing Resolution to keep the government open, while declaring the National Emergency and beginning to build the wall.
Pelosi has overplayed her hand in this high stakes negotiation. For her and the Democrats, she must continue to oppose the wall and any compromise on border security. To compromise, she is going against her base of support who will demand that she remain firm in her opposition to the wall.
President Trump has the advantage on building the border wall, whether a compromise is reached or not. He can declare the National Emergency and start building the wall. Blame can be efficiently laid at the feet of Pelosi and the Democrats. Though the media will blame Trump, his base and those supporting the wall will know better.
Yes, Nancy Pelosi has overplayed her hand.
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