December 19, 2015

©2015 jbjd

Of all the specious claims of competence made by and on behalf of Donald J. Trump in his quixotic bid to become the Republican nominee for President of the United States; this, arguably, is the raison d’être: he is a great negotiator. For example, here is a sample of the over-the-top-hype-bordering-on-religious-zealotry regarding Trump’s negotiating skills, taken from an article appearing on Breitbart and re-posted on the candidate’s blog:


15. Negotiation skills. Presidents have the benefit of being surrounded by highly talented experts in their respective fields – it’s the entire basis for the Cabinet appointments. But, what’s the one area on which a president is on his own? Negotiations. When our leader walks into an international forum, or that one-on-one meeting with the British PM, there is no adviser that can speak for him. It’s the one time the president sinks or swims on his own merits. As such, a stern – even arrogant — president with negotiating expertise is of paramount importance. Governors have keen negotiating skills, sure – so do CEO’s. Trump is so good at it, though, he – literally – wrote the ‘bible’ on it. (Emphasis added by jbjd.)

As you see, Trump wants us on the basis of this ‘fact’ alone, that is, he is a great negotiator, not to dismiss his Presidential candidacy on the grounds of his admitted lack of expertise and knowledge in several disciplines, like foreign policy and military defense, which supporters and detractors alike agree are material to being a successful Commander in Chief. Absent demonstrable competence; he admonishes that an over-sized negotiation prowess earns him an unqualified ‘pass’ to campaign for the job.

Does this mean, assuming he is not a great negotiator then, we can all agree he is not qualified for the job?

I am unequipped to gauge Trump’s greatness when it comes to wheeling and dealing in negotiations related to property. However, when it comes to competence in the arena of Presidential performance, I can confidently pronounce these two things. First, compensating for deficits in knowledge material to successfully lead the Executive branch of the federal government is impossible regardless whether the candidate for President is a skilled negotiator. And second, by flubbing Hugh Hewitt’s question about the “nuclear triad” at the CNN Republican debate on December 15, Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump unequivocally exposed that whatever benefit of the qualification doubt might have been granted to him going in; he cannot overcome his ignorance in the arena of Presidential performance because, when it comes to Presidential politics, he’s a lousy negotiator.

Of course, the first point, that is, the President should not be ignorant about governmental complexities going into office, is only my opinion. And whenever I denigrate Trump’s performance at that last debate, I come under attack by Trumpettes rationalizing in his defense, he may be ignorant when it comes to military parlance but he can be brought up to speed. (Thus far, they haven’t addressed the fact that the strategy of nuclear deterrence which underlies all talk of the triad is a critical tactical consideration that seemingly escaped Trump’s simple mind.) Well, I disagree the man is competent to learn what he needs to know. Indeed, I maintain on December 15, he showed us he is even too stupid to think on his feet.

Let me refresh your memory on how the would-be Republican nominee went so wrong.

Here is a transcript of Hugh Hewitt’s debate question:

HH: Dr. Carson just referenced the single most important job of the President, the command, the control, and the care of our nuclear forces. And he mentioned the triad: the B52’s are older than I am; the missiles are old; the submarines are aging out. (NOTE from jbjd: These are the three (3) legs of the nuclear triad: 1) air, 2) land, and 3) sea delivery systems for nuclear weapons. Dr. Carson had itemized the three, in a response 10 minutes earlier.) It’s an Executive Order, it’s a Commander in Chief decision. What’s your priority among our nuclear triad?

DT: Well, first of all, I think we need somebody absolutely that we could trust who’s totally responsible who really knows what he or she is doing. That is so powerful and so important. And one of the things that I’m frankly most proud of is that in 2003/2004 I was totally against going into Iraq because you’re going to de-stabilize the Middle East – I called it, I called it very strongly – and it was very important. But we have to be extremely vigilant and extremely careful when it comes to nuclear. Nuclear changes the whole ball game. Frankly, I would’ve said, ‘get outa Syria, get out…’ If we didn’t have the power of weaponry today, the power is so massive, that we can’t just leave areas that 50 years ago or 75 years ago we wouldn’t care, it was hand to hand combat. The biggest problem this world has today is not President Obama with global warming, which is inconceivable this is what he’s saying. The biggest problem we have today is nuclear, nuclear proliferation, and having some maniac having some madman go out and get a nuclear weapon. That ‘s, in my opinion, that is the single biggest problem that our country faces.

HH: The three legs of the triad though, do you have a priority, because I’m going to go to Sen. Rubio after that to ask him.

DT: I think just the nuclear, the power, the devastation is very important to me.

HH: Senator Rubio, do you have a response?

MC: I do. First, let’s explain to people at home what the triad is, maybe a lot of people at home haven’t heard that terminology before. The triad is our ability of the United States to conduct nuclear attacks using airplanes, using missiles launched from silos or from the ground; and also from our nuclear subs ability to attack. And it’s important, all three of them are critical, it gives us the ability at deterrence.

(This is a great video of just that exchange; I couldn’t embed.)

In other words, responding to a question on the subject of defense less than 10 minutes earlier, candidate Ben Carson, standing at the lectern right next to Trump, raised the problem of our aging armaments by naming the specific launch mechanisms that currently comprise the triad! And before Hewitt lobbed the question about the triad to Trump 10 minutes later, he – Hewitt – paraphrased Carson’s just-recited identification, now only asking Trump, acting as Commander in Chief, which of the already-named (and repeated) legs of the triad would have his priority (for expenditures aimed at modernization).

Even if they hadn’t been paying attention to Carson’s response to the military defense question; using only the information and cues available during those exchanges I would bet, the majority of his sycophantic bloggers could have fudged an acceptable answer. Not so their feckless candidate.

That said, set aside my opinion that Trump’s stupidity is the reason he didn’t come up with a responsive answer to Hewitt’s question on the nuclear triad at the Republican debate on December 15. Instead, consider this fact: Trump blew Hewitt’s question about the nuclear triad because in the arena of Presidential politics, Donald J. Trump is a lousy negotiator.

For starters, Trump broke Forbe’s Power Negotiation Tip No. 1: Know Your Opponent .

Of course, Donald Trump knows Hugh Hewitt, who has interviewed him at least dozens of times on his show. As a cardinal rule of negotiation, that’s not what “know your opponent” means. So, for the sake of clarification and, as an effective mechanism for putting Trump’s failure in its proper perspective; I invite you to pretend you are a candidate for the Republican nomination for President. Let’s follow how you would have ‘negotiated’ a better job.

As a candidate for the Republican nomination for President, you know you will be participating in a series of scheduled debates with the several other candidates. On October 13, Salem Media Group, which sponsors Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, announces that Mr. Hewitt will be a panelist at the CNN Republican debate on December 15.

Exhibit 1:

Hewitt continues to be the “go to” host for the Presidential candidates.  “I’ve done over 50 in-depth interviews with the candidates who remain in the field and will continue to invite them onto my radio show between now and March to pose tough, straightforward questions. There’s no better way for me or for them to prepare,” said Hewitt.

Now on notice Hewitt will be your inquisitor, naturally, you want to learn all you can about the man.

You read his biography, available on his web site.

Exhibit 2:

Professor Hugh Hewitt is a lawyer, law professor and broadcast journalist whose nationally syndicated radio show is heard in more than 120 cities across the United States every weekday afternoon. Professor Hewitt is a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Michigan Law School, and has been teaching Constitutional Law at Chapman University Law School since it opened in 1995. Professor Hewitt has been a frequent guest on CNN, Fox News Network, and MSNBC, and has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times. He has received three Emmys for his work as co-host of the ground-breaking Life & Times program, a nightly news and public affairs program that aired on the Los Angeles PBS affiliate, KCET, from 1992 until 2007. Professor Hewitt also conceived and hosted the 1996 PBS series, Searching for God in America. He is the author of a dozen books, including two New York Times best-sellers.

Professor Hewitt is best known as the host of his radio show, which has an audience estimated at more than 2 million listeners every week. Since its debut in July of 2000, Professor Hewitt has conducted groundbreaking interviews with government officials from both parties and widely respected analysts, authors and pundits. In a 2006 profile of Hewitt for The New Yorker, the dean of the Columbia University School of Journalism told his readers that Hewitt was “the most influential conservative you have never heard of.”

Hewitt writes daily for his blog,, which is among the most visited political blogs in the U.S. He is also a weekly columnist for The Washington Examiner and

Professor Hewitt served for nearly six years in the Reagan Administration in a variety of posts, including Assistant Counsel in the White House and Special Assistant to two Attorneys General. Since returning to California in 1989 to oversee the construction of the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, Hewitt has served as a member of the California Arts Council, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, and the Orange County Children and Families Commission. He and his wife live in Orange County.

Hewitt’s passions are the Cleveland Browns and Indians, Ohio State and Notre Dame football and running.

About Hugh Hewitt

This is impressive; no intellectual slouch he. Taking both him and the occasion of the debate seriously; you heed his advice for candidates to “prepare” for the upcoming encounter. You explore his web site, finding links to recordings and transcripts of prior interviews with the candidates. You come across an on-air interview with candidate Donald J. Trump on August 3 – – and a transcript of that pertinent segment of the interview (12:20 – 14:39). You listen while Hewitt clearly expresses to Trump, there are three legs to the American nuclear triad, and asks, more than once, which leg would he devote resources to modernize.

Exhibit 3:

HH: Now let me ask you about the American nuclear triad.. Is it necessary anymore, Donald Trump, is it affordable?

DT: I think one of the most important things that we have to worry about is nuclear generally speaking. The power of nuclear, the power of the weapons that we have today and that is by the way — the deal with Iran — the concept of it is so important that you have to make a good deal and what they should have done is that they should have doubled up and tripled up the sanctions and negotiate from strength instead of the pathetic negotiators that we had so anything that we had to do with nuclear to me the power of the weapons — the problem is that it is not how many soldiers you have, the power of weaponry today is is utmost important.

HH: Do we need all the three kind of nuclear weapons that we have though?

DT: I think we should have absolutely have — you know we are going to have to build ourselves back up because — I don’t know if you saw that 60 Minute piece about a year ago where our nuclear weapons are so absolute and so outdated, the phones didn’t work, the wires were rotted and frankly to allow that to actually go on television where they are giving tours of places of silos and they are rusting and rotting and I’m Putin and I looking at that I’m saying I’m saying, “Wow these guys don’t have the power we thought they had.”

HH: But do you think we can afford to to just update one of the three legs nor do we need all three of them like the Cold War?

DT: I think we need massive protection and unfortunately you know the nuclear is the protection It’s not just the question of having a million soldiers nowadays. You need the protection because North Korea has it, the deal based on everything that I’ve seen as you know Iran is gong to have it, Pakistan has it, India has it. Hopefully, India is on our side a little more than most but people are getting it and Russia has it big league and China has it, but you know, Putin said about a month ago and I was shocked to hear it — first time I’ve ever heard it from that kind of a power. Essentially he said don’t mess with us, we have nuclear weapons. Do you remember that?

HH: Yep.

DT: Why would somebody say that from that kind of country?

HH: We are out of time so I just got to close with a couple of pop culture.

You notice that Trump never answers Hewitt’s question and, indeed, seems unaware what he – Hewitt – is talking about. On the contrary, Trump focuses his ramblings on the efficacy of fighting the next war using merely nuclear power versus relying on massive troop strength. You don’t know what is meant by the term “nuclear triad.” But you are determined not to sound like a dunce yourself. So, using the search function on Hewitt’s site, you type in the words “nuclear triad.” And you hit pay dirt, in the form of an interview with Robert C. O’Brien, on November 14. (Emphasis in orange added by jbjd.)

Exhibit 4:

Robert C. O’Brien Gives National Security/Foreign Policy Debate Advice To GOP Candidates And The Media

HH: I’m joined by Robert O’Brien, who was a longtime deputy to John Bolton at the United Nations. He is one of my law partners at Arent Fox. He is an extraordinary authority on all things security. And we’d scheduled to talk today about, on the eve of the Democratic debate, about how to talk about international affairs in a presidential debate. We did not expect it to be this relevant tonight, Robert.

RO’B: Well, the first thing, our hearts go out to the people of Paris. They’ve suffered tragedy before with the Charlie Hebdo and the Kosher deli attacks, and certainly for the many victims, the dead, the wounded. Our hearts and our prayers and our thoughts go out to them and their families, and also to the people of Paris, France, the great ally. In fact, they were our first ally. And this is a terrible unfolding event for them to undergo.

HH: Now Robert, obviously if you’re John Dickerson, you’re tearing up your notes. And I’m getting ready for a debate in December, and that’s what we want to talk about tonight, and how candidates prepare for a major debate on national and international security issues. What would you do is you were Dickerson? What would you ask Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders tomorrow night?

RO’B: Well, certainly the Democrats have been very weak on defense throughout the Obama years. Defense sequestration has led to a budget that is, in real dollars, has fallen over 10% since sequestration was enacted in 2011. So there’s not a strong record on defense. There’s certainly the disengagement from Iraq, the disengagement from Afghanistan, although fortunately, the President is going to leave a couple thousand troops behind in Kabul. But this idea that we could somehow sidestep history, that we could get out of the fight against, that we could end the global war on terror and talk about manmade contingencies, this is a real soft spot for the Democrats, and they’re going to have to, and we’re now seeing with this, the unfolding events in Paris, the Democrats candidates, O’Malley, Sanders and Clinton are going to have to explain to the American people how they’re going to keep them safe and how they’re going to support our allies, and help keep our allies safe.

HH: Now I want to use this time, though, Robert, to focus on the Republican field, because not only do I have to get ready for debates, I think they have to get ready to talk about national security. And it kind of broke out this week, and I want people to understand that not only are you my friend and law partner, but you were Scott Walker’s senior foreign policy advisor prior to Scott Walker withdrawing. You have not committed, am I correct, to any campaign since then? You’re not affiliated with anybody?

RO’B: That’s correct. I’ve got a number of friends that are in the race. I’ve talked to a number of the campaigns, and have given them advice, but I have not endorsed a candidate at this point.

HH: Well, I talked with General Bob Dees yesterday, he’s Ben Carson’s senior national security advisor, about preparing a candidate. And I thought I’d talk to you as a neutral. What do you think candidates ought to know, for example, about nuclear deterrence, because this is not something that’s easy to bring up, and people’s eyes might glaze over, but it’s kind of the essence of being the commander-in-chief.

RO’B: Well, it’s something that we grew up with, Hugh. I mean, you can recall growing up being worried about, you know, the nuclear threat being the number one concern that we all had about national security. I mean, there was, during the Reagan years, there were folks that were pushing for unilateral disarmament. President Reagan took a different approach, and deployed tactical, shorter ranger nuclear weapons, intermediate range nuclear weapons to Europe to counter the Soviet threat. That ultimately led to both sides withdrawing those weapons, and intermediate range nuclear forces treaty being passed by both sides. Unfortunately, that’s one of the treaties that Moscow is currently violating as they covertly develop new intermediate range nuclear forces. But look, our nuclear deterrence, our ability to convince the Chinese, the Russians, the North Koreans, the Iranians, and others that any attack on the United States would be met with such a devastating response that they shouldn’t even consider such an attack, that nuclear deterrent is just critical to keeping America safe. Unfortunately, our deterrent is getting, our forces are getting older. The equipment is getting older. And we need to make some significant investments there to maintain our edge and to maintain our deterrent stance.

HH: Do you think candidates need to be up to speed on the INF, the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and what Putin is doing, because he’s actually violating it with impunity. I don’t even know if Americans know about all of the different things he’s done in just the last three weeks.

RO’B: No, there was a report yesterday from Russian TV that he is developing a nuclear submarine drone to take out submarines. He’s been flying his Blackjack bombers over U.S. and British naval ships. He’s been using his longer range Tupolev bombers to fly into U.S. airspace. Those are the bombers that would launch long range cruise missiles against the American homeland and against our allies in Europe. He’s going back to a very Cold War posture of testing our ability to intercept and deter Russian aggression. And he’s also letting folks know that he’s got nuclear weapons and is prepared to use them if necessary in Russian interest. And so our deterrent is critical. It’s important that our candidates understand the nuclear triad, and that’s something that I think should be a subject at the debate that you co-moderate next month.

HH: Now when they rattle their sabers this way, Chris Christie had a very aggressive response in the undercard debate this week when he said we can use our cyber capabilities to send a message to Beijing. I’ve been reading Ted Koppel’s new book, Lights Out. I was talking about it with Jeb Bush earlier today. What do you make of that, that kind of hawkish, Christie lean forward and making voluble threats that may or may not impress a watching television audience?

RO’B: Well, I think Governor Christie and Senator Rubio, Senator Cruz, to a lesser extent, the other candidates, are going back to the Reagan peace through strength philosophy of national defense, national security policy. That was certainly Governor Walker’s policy before he got out of the race. And what that means is you have to have a next generation of nuclear subs capable of launching a counterstrike, the replacement for the Ohio Class. It means you have to have the long range strike bomber. It means we have to modernize our Minutemen II missiles so that our adversaries know that if they attempted to launch a nuclear attack on the United States, it would result in their, you know, absolutely assured destruction. Number two, it means that we have to get ahead of the game on cyber. I mean, right now, we’re losing the cyberwar. I mean, the Chinese are hacking us at will. Their entire advanced military platform has been hacked, has been stolen from Lockheed and Northrop and Boeing. When you look at their newest ships and their newest aircraft, they’re all clones of American designs with Russian engines. So we’ve got to be tough on cyber, and we’ve got to be ahead of the game on cyber so that again, if anyone launches a cyberattack on us, they have to know that the response will be devastating.

HH: I’ll be back with Robert C. O’Brien.

You smile, smugly. Having read the announcement Hewitt will moderate the debate; read his biography; and diligently explored his work, including his interview with Robert O’Brien, you now know he will ask a question on the “nuclear triad.” And you are prepared to ‘hit it out of the park.’ (When you calm down, you might recall that Donald Trump claimed his “go-to” person for military advice is John Bolton and realize it makes no sense that Bolton doesn’t know as much about the nuclear triad as O’Brien, his long-time deputy at the UN. You might wonder whether Trump actually takes the advice of his learned advisers. Perhaps you conclude, he simply lied.)

But on December 15, Hewitt lobs the “nuclear triad” question at Trump, who, blindsided and unprepared, blathers on, again, like an idiot. Because unlike you, he is a lousy negotiator.

Witnessing Trump implode at the December 15 debate under Hewitt’s questioning; I was struck by the obvious fact, he – Trump – hadn’t anticipated that Hewitt would ask him again about the “nuclear triad.” I couldn’t believe having been stumped on the military phrase – on the air! – nearly four months earlier, he hadn’t been sufficiently embarrassed either by the public exposure of his cluelessness or by his ignorance; to look up the term since that time! By not getting up to speed, Trump had blatantly revealed, he is both stupid and lazy; I hoped his supporters could see. For the first time, I would take a look at the best selling The Art of the Deal; and contrast Trump’s tips for success in a high-stakes confrontation; against his abysmal performance on the stage. In this way, I could reinforce even to his truest believers that just because he wrote a book on the subject doesn’t mean, he is any good at political negotiations; and further, given that the primary ‘skill’ he claims for the job of President is his superior negotiating ability then, this means he is incompetent to do the job.

Only, notwithstanding Trump’s name appears in HUUUGE letters above the title of the book, I discovered that just like Bill Ayers wrote Barack Obama’s inspirational Dreams from my Father; someone else wrote Donald Trump’s ‘negotiating bible,’ too.


My mind is a terrible thing to waste.












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