Feehery: Trump is holding all the cards this November
If you have played poker, you have played against a guy like my friend Woody.
Woody talks a big game, makes big bets, relentlessly raises the stakes at all kinds of inappropriate times and usually walks away with the biggest pot at the end of the night.
President Trump is like Woody.
He would be a nightmare to play poker against.
He is always on offense. He is always making a big show of his big bets. When he does fold, he does it so quietly, nobody really notices, because he is on with his next big bet.
Predictability used to be the hallmark of America’s international policy. But Trump has changed that equation.
He is unpredictable, unconventional, and he makes foreign leaders, our allies and the Washington establishment exceedingly uncomfortable.
When he folds, like he did on a huge spending package that included some but not all of his requested money for the border wall, he does it so quietly, that nobody really even reported on it.
He folded, but he won anyway.
That’s how good Trump is at playing poker in this modern political moment.
The president has plenty of trump cards up his sleeve as he moves forward on his campaign to reelection this year.
He pulled one of them when he authorized the assassination of one of America’s toughest foes, Qassem Soleimani.
Sure, it was a gamble, and we don’t know how exactly it will play out.
But we do know that the man who had masterminded death and destruction for decades in the Middle East is permanently retired, and Trump’s decisive action has put everybody on notice, from Kim Jong Un to Bashar Assad that he doesn’t mess around when it comes to protecting American interests.
Trump’s move to kill this Iranian terrorist has roiled the Democratic primary, caused the left to embrace him as a martyr and sent the mainstream media into conniptions.
In other words, it has served the president well, from a political perspective.
The president has other cards up his sleeve.
He has the ability to thoroughly dominate media coverage with one 280-character tweet.
No matter what reporters want to report on, from impeachment to the Emoluments Clause, Trump can change the subject to what he wants to talk about.
He ups the ante with each tweet, making grandiose and often ridiculous statements.
The whole controversy over the supposed targeting of Iranian cultural sites is a case in point.
Nobody seriously thinks that the American people (or the military) would allow the president to target historically or religiously significant sites to punish the Iranians.
And yet the president mentions it, and the media goes nuts.
The president’s biggest trump card comes with how he handles the economy.
He knows that to keep the economy growing, he needs to find ways to make trade deals with our foreign competitors.
The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which will be passed sometime in January, gives the stock market confidence that there is a method to the president’s madness. When he signs the first phase of a new China trade agreement, he continues to build on his trade credibility.
Unlike Trump’s opponents, the president has the power to chart his own destiny.
He can take decisive actions on international stage that burnish his reputation as a strong leader who is willing to do what it takes to keep the American people safe.
He can dominate the media conversation to make sure they are talking about subjects that are most advantageous to him politically.
He can take steps to make sure that the economy continues to grow, by signing trade deals and spending bills that will continue to prime the pump.
Trump will continuously up the ante, make ridiculous bluffs, fold quietly when the cards aren’t in his favor, and otherwise play the trump cards in his hand in a way that will make him tough to beat in November, no matter who the Democrats decide to nominate in the coming months.
Feehery is a partner at EFB Advocacy and blogs at www.thefeeherytheory.com. He served as spokesman to former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), as communications director to former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) when he was majority whip and as a speechwriter to former House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-Ill.).