Did you catch Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D) in action Tuesday? The California congresswoman is known to be a masterful negotiator, and she was in her full glory at an Oval Office meeting with President Donald Trump, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Vice President Mike Pence.
At the outset, she set Trump back on his heels by naming the possible government shutdown “the Trump shutdown,” and sending him into a kind of tailspin. (“Did you say Trump?” he asked incredulously.)
Trump tried every sexist tactic in the book in an attempt to diminish the 78-year-old Pelosi: He repeatedly interrupted her, tried to mansplain to Pelosi ― who is the former, and likely future, speaker of the House ― how Congress works, and even talked about her in the third person as if she weren’t there.
I think she gets that he is a terrible negotiator. Deborah Kolb, author of Negotiating at Work: Turn Small Wins Into Big Gains
None of it went well for him. It was a clear win for one of the most powerful women in politics, and a lesson in how to win a negotiation with a guy who underestimates women.
Read this remarkable exchange, via a transcript from The Washington Post:
Trump: Nancy’s in a situation where it’s not easy for her to talk right now, and I understand, and I fully understand that. We’re going to have a good discussion, and we’re going to see what happens. But we have to have border security.
Pelosi: Mr. President — Mr. President, please don’t characterize the strength that I bring to this meeting as the leader of the House Democrats, who just won a big victory.
She was steely calm, while Trump and Schumer traded barbs back and forth and grew agitated. Like here:
Trump: Okay, let me ask you this, just — and we’re doing this in a very friendly manner. It doesn’t help for me to take a vote in the House where I will win easily with the Republicans.
Pelosi: You will not win.
And Trump sure did lose this round ― or at least that’s the consensus. Pelosi and Schumer got him to say that if the government shuts down, it’s Trump’s own fault. “I will take the mantle of shutting down, and I’m going to shut it down for border security,” he said.
“She saw how he was trying to undermine and demean her and she ‘turned’ it ― established herself as a worthy negotiating partner,” said Kolb, who is a professor emerita at Simmons University. “Also I think she gets that he is a terrible negotiator, competitive but can’t carry it through. Bluffs but then capitulates.”
Later, to her colleagues, Pelosi reportedly revealed a bit of her strategy. Essentially, she challenged Trump on one of his biggest insecurities ― his masculinity.
“I was trying to be the mom,” Pelosi said, according to Politico, but “it goes to show you: You get into a tinkle contest with a skunk, you get tinkle all over you.”
“It’s like a manhood thing with him — as if manhood can be associated with him,” Pelosi reportedly said. “This wall thing.”