It’s all easy, until it’s not…

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"That is my take. Any negotiation, as any negotiator will tell you, is always easy until it is not. And the 'not' part of a negotiation usually happens sooner rather than later."

Today I would like to address the stunning, live and in color, negotiation session which took place in the White House cabinet room yesterday. For those of us who thought this would be a famous "sausage making session" which frequently happens behind closed doors, it was not. It was a 55 minute "puff piece" which signified very little to nothing.
Why do I say that? As a former negotiator, I have been through many tough negotiations. None were easy nor high level. They were always down in the data and the nitty gritty. For sure, none ever took 55 minutes.
For a man who has as much negotiation experience under his belt as the President does, I was amazed to see the Occam's Razor approach used in this most difficult topic. If anything, a permanent fix on our immigration mess might be as tough to figure out as a fix for ObamaCare. Why? Just like ObamaCare, we have let the torting and twisting of our de facto immigration policy run deep within the roots of our society and culture.
Seeing this group of esteemed bipartisan, bicameral lawmakers get together to basically express opinions did nothing for me. Why? What was agreed to? A wall in exchange for the DACA fix? Really? And when the President said, "We might not need all the money right now", what did that mean? A half wall? A technology wall? What? And how will chain migration as well as the "lotto" program be part of this? The devil is ALWAYS in the details.
Speaking of which, the art of negotiation is not like the art of playing Liar's Poker. Negotiations are fraught with data and details. Lots and lots of them. And when agreement is reached on an important detail, it is then memorialized in some kind of Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) or Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Why? Memories can be very short, and very "selective". Most negotiators have heard at some time in their career once a negotiation is over, "I don't remember it that way". With an important agreement memorialized, foggy memories are never an issue.
I am not saying yesterday's meeting was a complete waste of time. I will say it was only step one to solving a very complex issue. And if we can keep these butt headed Left Coast judges out of the mix by ordering injunctions, progress can be made. However, one caveat to the President and the Republicans. This immigration fix cannot look anything like amnesty. If it does, I don't care if the President said he would "take the heat". That fallout from the base will be beyond heat. It will be an excrement storm which will cover everyone involved.
That is my take. Any negotiation, as any negotiator will tell you, is always easy until it is not. And the "not" part of a negotiation usually happens sooner rather than later.