Donald Trump and Mitt Romney ate frog legs while submerging their respective hatchets Tuesday night.
After the much-anticipated dinner, Romney surfaced with flattering things to say about his former foe.
Trump was no longer a "phony," but quite possibly "the very man" to lead America to a "better future."
For Trump's part, this Apprentice-style parade of suitors for secretary of state is yet more proof that the president-elect possesses a preternatural political savvy that — although at times dangerous — may be an unexpected asset on the global stage.
Trump's recent dance with Romney is instructive.
Just as Trump brought the former Massachusetts governor into his inner-circle, the president-elect simultaneously sanctioned surrogates to push mixed messages about Romney.
On the surface, it appeared like political infighting, but it could just as easily be that Trump surreptitiously stacked the deck in his favor.
Indeed, if Trump ultimately chooses Romney, the president-elect comes across looking all the more magnanimous for having done so after Trump's own allies denounced the 2012 nominee.
And if Trump doesn't choose Romney? Well, at least Trump can now chalk it up to “grass-roots” opposition.
No matter the outcome, Trump comes out looking better than when he started the reality-show rose ceremony.
With everyone dissecting the latest episode of "The Apprentice – Secretary of State" edition, few members of the press are discussing how Donald Trump plans to resolve his global financial conflicts if his children continue to run his business.
(Trump tweeted this morning that he plans to step away from his business.)
Such discussions simply make for far less interesting copy.
“[Trump] understands the value of tension,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich observed on Fox News on Tuesday. “He understands the value of showmanship. And candidly, the news media is going to chase the rabbit. So it’s better off for him to give them a rabbit than for them to go find their own rabbit."
As Gingrich put it, Trump has the media "fixated on Mitt Romney now for five or six days. I think from his perspective, that’s terrific. It gives everyone something to talk about.”
And if the secretary of state drama isn't distraction enough, Trump is grabbing headlines with his latest torrent of tweets: “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag," the president-elect wrote on social media. "If they do, there must be consequences — perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!”
That one tweet alone fueled a full cycle of media indignation and further buried any talk of Trump's conflicts of interest.
Trump's chief strategist put it succinctly when dubbing his boss "the master of the head fake."
And yet many are loath to acknowledge any savvy in Trump’s social media superfluity.
After all, the "flag burning" tweet appears to merely be an impulsive reaction to a Fox News segment about flag burning that aired around the time of Trump’s message.
As one commentator observed, "Trump tweets [are] not some strategic distraction plan. He just watches cable news all the time and reacts."
While probably accurate, Trump’s provocative stream-of-conscience tweets still have the practical effect of distracting the media from more substantive issues while reporters leap to chase Trump’s latest unleashed rabbit.
“Given the clumsy and unsophisticated messages [Trump] disseminates,” writes Noah Rothman of Commentary, “it is easy to underestimate how elegantly Donald Trump wields his Twitter account.”
Trump's "stray voltage” is extremely effective at keeping the discussion away from matters that Trump would probably rather not discuss.
Even though it may be at times unintentional, the president-elect is able to deftly manipulate the national conversation.
While this ability is a dangerous device domestically, his strange skill-set could be strong on the global stage.
That is, of course, if tricking the press translates into outsmarting world leaders.8 comments on this story
For example, if Kim Jung Un ends up flummoxed as to what President Trump will do in a particular situation, it may cause him to think twice about provoking the White House in the first place. And yet, this same scenario could backfire if Trump leaves America’s allies in a similar state of limbo.
Perhaps this is where Mitt Romney would come in handy.
Needless to say, if Trump and Romney start dining more often as part of Trump’s team, let's hope it is the nefarious foreign heads of state who are chasing the rabbits and not the press.