WARNING: The next paragraph uses one of the late comic genius George Carlin’s 7 dirty words. I don’t think I stepped outside my PG rating but a few might disagree.
A song of my late teens and an adage I picked up as a young adult sum up how I feel on this Tuesday morning as I commence this article. President Trump deplaned in Hanoi about an hour ago and Michael Cohen is about to start his three consecutive days of Congressional testimony. The song is Carly Simon’s 1971 hit Anticipation and the expression is the restaurant industry’s 6 P’s: Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Let’s explore.
There is a twelve hour time difference between Hanoi and America’s East Coast so while the hands on the clock are in the same position in both places the reality is the opposite. I fear that is something of a metaphor for the upcoming summit between Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jung-un. My anticipation of what will result is full of trepidation.
Last Friday I attended a Board retreat for which I spent hours preparing. I left disappointed mainly because it soon became apparent that many of the other participants just showed up without doing any advance research or contemplation. The result was acceptable but far from optimal. The stakes are much higher in Hanoi.
Trump is not much of a reader or researcher nor has he proven to be someone who listens to his intelligence community or is a cerebral individual. His preparation for the summit seems to have consisted mainly of seeking Russia’s advice. Listening to awards shows is not preparation for a summit. Clue to the President: Spike Lee isn’t going to be at the negotiating table in Hanoi. However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will be in Hanoi at the same time as Trump. For those who think it is just a coincidence let me invoke (Malcolm) Nance’s Law: Coincidence takes a lot of planning.
I’d love to write a retraction/apology article but I don’t think the need will arise. I can’t see America coming out of this summit in better shape than it went in. Trump wants a deal that in the Donald Dome leads to a Nobel Peace Prize. He will make a deal for the sake of a deal and that almost undoubtedly insures that it will be a bad one. In my anticipatory mind the only questions are just how bad and what the specifics are.
Cohen will appear in closed sessions on Tuesday and Thursday. There will be plenty of spin and speculation but in reality we will all be guessing as to exactly what happened; at least until the inevitable leaks come down the road. Wednesday is an open session and while some topics will be prohibited from being discussed in open session there will be news; plenty of it. Partisanship will be on full display with Democrats trying to get Cohen to expose the tidbit that gets them a plethora of soundbites and quotes in the media. Republicans, (in my opinion unwisely) on the other hand, will be trying to protect the President and discredit Cohen.
Perhaps my biggest regret this week will be that I have a full schedule on Wednesday and cannot be glued to the television. I’m certain I will pick up all the highlights on newscasts and in the newspapers. Unlike Trump, Cohen and the vast majority of the Senators and Representatives will come into the three sessions prepared. Especially on the Democratic side, many will be licking their chops in anticipation of their 5 minutes in front of the camera, at least in their minds few if any will fall victim to violating the 6 P’s rule.
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