Josh Marshall offers up a common reaction toward Donald Trump’s meeting with Mexico’s president later today:
President Nieto definitely does not want Donald Trump to become President. He probably assumes he won’t become president, simply by reading the polls….Toadying to Trump would be extremely bad politics; standing up to him, good politics. Put those factors together and Peña Nieto has massive and overlapping reasons to want to embarrass Trump.
This is all true. It basically seems like the usual sort of half-assed publicity stunt we’ve come to expect from Trump. But consider this: it’s possible that both sides in this meeting would benefit from a “disaster.” As Marshall says, Peña Nieto has every reason to play the tough guy and earn Trump’s wrath. Everyone in Mexico hates Trump, so standing up to him, or even embarrassing him, would be a political win.
But the same might be true of Trump. His base would certainly go wild at the prospect of Trump having a beef with the president of Mexico. The last thing they want is a cordial get together that suggests some kind of future rapprochement. And if Trump plays it right, a meeting that could be spun as an insult to America might even help him with swing voters.
Then again, maybe Trump desperately wants Peña Nieto’s respect, and wants this meeting to demonstrate that he’s not just a bomb thrower who can’t be trusted with international relations.
Really, who knows? But it will definitely win a news cycle for him.