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Trump's Rope-a-Dope Negotiation Strategy

He invites his opponents to come at him, and in so doing they find themselves exposed.

Thomas Gallatin · Aug. 27, 2019

President Donald Trump has rarely been precise in his use of language. Hyperbole and broad generalizations regularly pepper his descriptive and often longwinded meandering comments on almost every subject. This aspect of Trump’s communication style has been what has produced the most criticism and consternation from his political and media opponents — and even many friends. Following the collapse of the Russian collusion narrative, the Leftmedia shifted its anti-Trump strategy to focus on Trump’s communication style with the goal of painting him as essentially crazy. Yet Trump’s communication style hasn’t suddenly changed. Like it or not, he communicates in the same manner as he did before he was elected.

It’s no secret that leftists oppose Trump and are constantly angling for different means by which to take him down. So, why does it often appear that Trump seemingly plays right into their hands? Why is Trump not more careful with his words? Has he not yet learned?

We’ve noted it before, but it bears repeating. Listen to what Trump means, not what he says. This is easier said than done. There’s no question that Trump has made contradictory statements and that he has said offensive things. He has lavished near-effusive praise on tyrannical dictators and strongmen like Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin, while at other times he has thrown some of his own people under the proverbial bus for inconsequential and petty disputes. At times he has made comments that have risen to the level of the noblest of statesmen, and at other times he has gone low, throwing out schoolyard insults.

Why does Trump behave this way? Is he really just crazy, as the Leftmedia insists? Ironically, in its coverage of Monday’s press conference in France following the G7 summit, The Washington Post stumbled across the answer. Asked about the ongoing trade war with China and his comments that he only wished he would have raised tariffs higher, Trump stated, “Sorry, it’s how I negotiate. It’s been very successful over the years.”

It’s Trump’s rope-a-dope method. Throw out contradictory statements, rhetorical bombs, and effusive praise combined with a good measure of hyperbole and repetition. This invites his opponents to attack a perceived weakness. Then Trump continues to feign bravado to encourage his opponents to attack — and by so doing they expose themselves and their weakness. Trump’s not afraid to take glancing blows, and in fact he often welcomes them. His goal is to pull his opponents onto his playing field where he then has the advantage.

If you look beyond Trump’s style of communication, you’ll see how effective he has been at getting his agenda accomplished. It may often look like Trump is surrounded by chaos of his own making, but in reality this serves as his cover. When your opponent regularly underestimates you, you’re in the perfect position to take advantage.

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