I am not a fan of Donald TrumpDonald TrumpKushner lands book deal, slated for release in 2022 Biden moves to undo Trump trade legacy with EU deal Progressives rave over Harrison's start at DNC MORE; I do not want to see him secure the Republican nomination, and would be hard-pressed to vote for him. But as a self-professed political junkie I can't resist jumping into the Trump extravaganza since it is now center stage. He hardly needs any advice: he has already demonstrated that he can, at a minimum, be a wrecking ball inside the Republican party (remember Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan?) and maybe even a serious contender for the nomination. 

As for me, I've had enough of presidents who come to the office for on-the-job training. I don't care how good someone was in business, or in community organizing for that matter, I want someone with a record of success in government. One would have to go all the way back to 1940 to find a main party businessman-candidate, the ill-fated "Barefoot Boy From Wall Street," Wendell Willkie. And Trump, although richer, is no Wilkie, lacking the intellect, political savvy, and gravitas. But I do take Trump's candidacy seriously and the pundits who wrote him off will have to recognize that he is at least a game-changer.


Trump is not likely to change his "brand." He will continue to wrap himself in the flag and "Trump(et)" hot button issues like border security and veterans' services. This has worked for him and will continue to work so long as there are so many other Republican contenders (at last count 15!) whose very numbers and diversity diffuse a concerted Republican riposte to what they all perceive as failed Democratic policies.

There is no point suggesting that he "tone it down." His red meat supporters are not interested in nuance, and he has no reason to accede to the entreaties of the establishment Republicans. The more they plead, the stronger he looks and the weaker they appear.

Therefore I have only one piece of advice for Trump, and this is not offered tongue in cheek: Hire a comedy writer. 

Trump has reached a point in the polls where he no longer needs to appear shrill in order to garner headlines and media attention. He can remain combative while taking the high road, indulging in gentle but pointed jabs at his opponents. The effect will be to diminish them while he can appear more "presidential." He should adopt a sorrowful tone in delivery: "I'm sorry that Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamProgressives rave over Harrison's start at DNC Senate confirms Garland's successor to appeals court Progressives want to tighten screws beyond Manchin and Sinema MORE called me a jackass. The Democrat party has the jackass as their symbol, and I don't understand how a RINO could make a mistake like that."

A surprising aspect of Trump's success in business is that his true "Art of the Deal" has not been beating down competitors. Although it is not part of the brand he brags about, he has forged incredible success by treating his adversaries in negotiations as partners. He does not try to eviscerate them; instead he studies carefully, in advance, what their needs are and how he can meet those needs while gaining maximum benefit to himself. He looks upon them as future partners, and he plays a smart "long game" so that future opportunities will present themselves with people who actually want to do business with him.

If, and I hope it does not happen, Donald Trump becomes president of the United States, one can trust that this will be his practice in dealing with Congress as well as foreign governments . . . the bluster will still be there, but the ability to maneuver, decide and execute can be important arrows in his quiver . . . but it's too late for those attributes to gain him the nomination. For that he needs Mel Brooks.

Haiman is a retired Naval officer, current adjunct professor at George Washington University, and senior ethics adviser with Ethos, LLC.