Trump as dealmaker-in-chief?

July 23, 2016

In a sit-down interview with The New York Times this week, Donald Trump used the word “deal” a dozen times. This tells me that if elected president, Trump would envisage himself as America’s dealmaker-in-chief.

What would that look like? Not a pretty picture, as I see it. Ever since his best-selling memoir, The Art of the Deal, was published in 1987, Trump has presented himself to the world as a business dealmaker with a golden touch. The facts prove otherwise.

In 2011 Time magazine listed ten of Trump’s most spectacular business failures. They included Trump Airlines (remember it?), Trump Entertainment Resorts (which operated hotels and casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey) and Trump Vodka, which I don’t ever recall seeing on a bar shelf or in a liquor store. To that list one can now add Trump University, currently facing three lawsuits alleging impropriety and fraud.

Perhaps the most damning indictment of Trump’s negotiating tactics comes from a former magazine journalist, Tony Schwartz, who was the ghostwriter for The Art of the Deal. He says now, in an interview with The New Yorker magazine, the book is essentially a work of fiction, that he only did it because he needed the money, and that if he wrote it today, he would title it The Sociopath.

“I put lipstick on a pig,” Schwartz admitted to The New Yorker. “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” More ominously, added Schwartz, “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes, there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”

For his part, Trump assured The New York Times, he will do everything in his power “never to be in a position where we will have to use nuclear power. It’s very important to me.”

Nor will he build a wall between the United States and Canada, as he is proposing to do between the United States and Mexico.

But he would “pull out of NAFTA in a split second.” Trump characterizes it as “the worst trade deal ever signed in the history of this country, and one of the worst trade deals ever signed anywhere in the world.”

Should Canada be concerned? Time will tell. Some observers believe Trump’s problem with NAFTA relates only to the fact that American manufacturing jobs are moving south of the border. “NAFTA is unpopular because of Mexico, but it never has really been unpopular because of Canada,” said Christopher Sands, a Canadian studies researcher at Johns Hopkins University, in an interview with CBC News. “So my guess is Canada gets a pass.” Others think Canada could take a hit because Trump is an isolationist when it comes to trade. If you buy his rhetoric, said Donald Abelson, a political science professor at Western University, “it’s all going to be about ‘America first’ and everyone else second and what kind of ripple effect does that have on us?”

At the end of the day – assuming Trump wins, of course – it will all boil down to how he shapes the art of the deal.

Copyright Brian Brennan 2016

Next, read Irish scholar Conor Mulvagh’s explainer, What caused Ireland’s rising?


Brian BrennanBrian Brennan, an Irish journalist living in Canada, is a founding feature writer with Facts and Opinions and a contributor to Arts dispatches and the Loose Leaf salon. His profile of Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, the first original feature in the journal’s inaugural issue, won Runner-up, Best Feature Article, in the 2014 Professional Writers Association of Canada Awards. Brennan was educated at University College Dublin, Vancouver’s Langara College, the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, and the National Critics Institute in Waterford, Connecticut.

Visit him at his website,

Brian Brennan also plays jazz piano, for fun and profit.


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