‘The Art of the Deal’ Was a Lie

Remember how Trump’s one main virtue as a leader was excelling in “the art of the deal”?

Alas, the story of Trump the brash dealmaker famously told in The Art of the Deal was — as the author has revealed — not entirely truthful. Although apparently Trump thinks that it is.

Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter of the book, told The Guardian: “There are two Trumps. The one he presents to the world is all bluster, bullying, and certainty. The other, which I have long felt haunts his inner world, is the frightened child of a relentlessly critical and bullying father and a distant and disengaged mother who couldn’t or wouldn’t protect him.”

Trump’s actual deal-making ability and management style can be pieced together through multiple sources that paint an alarming, but similar, picture. Perhaps one source could be dismissed, but we’ve got many. And they all add up to the same thing.

Take the portrayal by Michael Wolff in the book Fire and Fury. In it, multiple different factions each try to influence Trump to bend to their will, and Trump seems to agree with whomever he talked to last.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer compares negotiating with Trump to negotiating with Jell-O because Trump repeatedly agrees to deals, and then reneges on them.

Most of all, it seems he just wants to be liked.

It sounds like he agrees to a deal with the person in front of him so that they like him, and then does the same with the next person who talks to him so that they like him too.

Now look at the recent episode of This American Life that provides a behind the scenes play-by-play of Republican Senator Jeff Flake’s attempt to pass a popular immigration reform.

In this case, Flake engineers a deal to get his bill passed. Trump is on board. Flake and his allies will get to renew the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program if Trump gets his border wall. Deal.

Then the White House sends Flake a new list of demands. Now Trump is demanding a long list of hard line anti-immigration measures in exchange for what Flake wants. It’s impossible.

Strangely, then Trump goes back in the other direction once again. In a televised meeting, a bipartisan group of lawmakers work it out.

And… then Trump blows the whole thing up.

There’s a deal, there isn’t, there is, and then, finally, there isn’t.

Meanwhile, the American people are losing out. Our government isn’t functioning. Art of the Deal, this is not.

Maybe it’s time to see the inner workings of the White House for what they are. There’s no business mastermind running the country. There’s only an inconsistent, unpredictable man who is so susceptible to agreeing with the last person who spoke to him that he gets very little done at all.


Jill Richardson is pursuing a PhD in sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.