The first two parts of this series describe President Trump’s recent problems in negotiation, here and here.  In the continuing media analysis of his negotiation skills (or lack thereof), USA Today’s Jill Lawrence writes that he is a “nightmare negotiating partner.”

Ms. Lawrence, the author of The Art of the Political Deal, says, “The only constants with Trump are unpredictability and expediency. These are not, suffice it to say, the traditional cornerstones of getting to yes in politics.  The real pillars are trust and discretion. Can you rely on your negotiating partner to be consistent, to not leak or tweet or make counterproductive headlines, to be truly interested in a win-win outcome and understand what that will take?”

“Trump himself is obsessed with winners, losers and public relations. It’s unclear from day to day where he stands on issues, whether he is familiar with them and whether he even cares.  This has turned off Democrats and Republicans alike.”
“The obvious solution to Trump’s compulsive disruption would be to cut him out of the negotiating loop — let some experienced hands and Congress take care of things.  But there’s no way to do that. This president enjoys hurling curve balls and wrenches.”

She contrasts Mr. Trump’s recent negotiation failures with several successes in political negotiation despite the political polarization in recent years.  For example, in 2013, House and Senate Budget Committee chairs Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray negotiated a major budget deal.  “They got to know each other over several months, and nothing they said to each other in confidence ended up in the news.  They knew it was important that both could claim some wins.  And what constituted a win didn’t change.  Ryan and his party had longstanding positions, as did Murray, President Obama and their party.  Some things were simply non-negotiable; others had wiggle room.  These were familiar to both sides, and they stayed constant.”

Congress just reached a budget deal and Washington Post reporter James Hohmann describes “eight ways Trump got rolled in his first budget negotiation.”  Washington Post reporters Kelsey Snell and John Wagner write, “Democrats believe they have set the stage to block President Trump’s legislative priorities for years to come by winning major concessions in a spending bill to keep the government open.”

Perhaps with more practice and self-discipline, the author of The Art of the Deal will improve his negotiation skills and results.

John Lande is the Isidor Loeb Professor Emeritus and former director of the LLM Program in Dispute Resolution, at the University of Missouri, School of Law. He received his J.D. from Hastings College of Law and Ph.D in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also an avid writer and contributor to Indisputably.org