In The Art of the Deal, Donald Trump writes, "You can't con people, at least not for long. You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion and get all kinds of press, and you can throw in a little hyperbole. But if you don't deliver the goods, people will catch on."
Trump is having trouble delivering the goods. At this point in his presidency, Barack Obama had far more nominees both named and confirmed, and he had passed the stimulus bill, the Lily Ledbetter Act, and a massive expansion of the Children's Health Insurance Program. As of today, Trump hasn't signed any major legislation, and none seems close to his desk — in fact, Republicans and Democrats both tell me they're beginning to doubt that Obamacare gets replaced or a major tax reform bill gets passed at all.
The reason the future looks bleak for Trump's top priorities is that he seems to be doing everything he can to alienate the partners he needs — particularly Democrats, whose cooperation he needs in the Senate. His playbook has been more Breitbart than Art of the Deal.
This has been, to me at least, a surprise. Trump is a New York real estate developer. He's been negotiating with Democratic politicians to get things done his entire adult life. His first donation to Chuck Schumer, leader of the Senate Democrats, came all the way back in 1996. He knows these people, and he knows how to work with them.
Trump could have fashioned himself a non-ideological negotiator — a CEO president who wanted to run the government like a business. He could have split the Democratic Party by prioritizing an infrastructure bill. He could have invited Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to the Oval Office three times each week — creating photo opportunities for him, and a tough political bind for them.
Instead, Trump has poisoned his relationship with top Democrats. Calling Schumer "Fake Tears Chuck Schumer" might be satisfying for Trump, but it doesn't endear him to Schumer's many friends and allies in the caucus, much less to Schumer himself. Similarly, attacking civil rights icon and Atlanta Congress member John Lewis as "all talk, talk, talk — no action or results" infuriates the House Democrats who revere him.