Russ White MUG

When my son was a little guy, Ron Howard made a film that was the definitive movie on firefighting. The Backdraft poster was on my son’s wall as long as he had a room in our home.

The movie was about a series of arson fires and the investigation to discover and prosecute the arsonist. It turned out to be a rogue firefighter setting fires so firefighters could be heroes and secure a better contract in negotiations with their city.

That’s the plot of every negotiation our current president has engaged in since taking office. It started with his belligerence toward North Korea in attempts to force Kim Jong Un to the negotiating table.

The pretender-in-chief took a decadeslong, tense and unpredictable situation and ratcheted up the rhetoric to the point of virtual hysteria. Then, he rode to the rescue by holding an ill-advised summit with the North Korean leader.

Drumpf got nothing for all his bluster and fury. North Korea has not dismantled a single component of its nuclear program, and continues to test different aspects of it. But, North Korea is now seen as a legitimate regime worthy of a place at the international table.

Kim owned this president in these negotiations. He must be laughing his posterior off every time he sends off one of his love letters to the one he affectionately calls the “Dotard.”

The president has followed this same reality-TV playbook in every negotiation he has undertaken during this misbegotten administration. Whether we’re talking about the trade war with China, or the national emergency over his border wall, his modus operandi is consistent in both method and result.

What worked for him as an impresario in the New York City real estate market — intimidation and bullying — is failing miserably as he attempts to scale it to international diplomacy. He is a laughingstock on the world stage.

The latest example from his all-too-predictable playbook is when the president walked back his threats to impose tariffs on Mexico. He had been hammered, both by the Republicans in the Senate and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, over his ill-conceived bullying tactics.

In the end, he declared victory, claiming that Mexico had caved. The reality is that Mexico had agreed to all the points in the so-called deal months before the president made his first threat.

The world has figured him out, and he is now a lame duck internationally. 2020 cannot come soon enough.

— White, a retired fire services chief in South Florida, lives in Orange City. Send email to