One of the great innovations of the Donald Trump presidential campaign has been its exaltation of the element of surprise. My interpretation is that it started as a clever bluff for any detailed questions about plans for his presidency, of which he has none, in the sense that we would ordinarily understand that concept, but evolved into an ideology. It’s not just his war plans that he’s playing close to the chest. His immigration plans, his economic plans, even his decision to contest the election or not, are supposed to be “surprises”, and he mocks those so foolish as to reveal their secret plans.
(The idea that you might have allies who ought to coordinate their actions with yours, or other governing bodies that have a constitutional right to be consulted and informed, is beyond his worldview.)
This is all in keeping with Trump’s world-view, in which statesmanship is just a real estate swindle negotiation writ large. What is more surprising is that the generally more sensible British Tories have adopted a similar approach to Brexit negotiations:
The international development secretary, who was a prominent leave campaigner and is said to be among the ministers on Theresa May’s Brexit committee, said a debate in the House of Commons over the terms of UK’s departure would give the game away to Brussels.
“If I were to sit down and play poker with you this morning, I’m not going to show you my cards before we even start playing the game,” she told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show.
Her comments came in the wake of an attempt by a powerful cross-party group of MPs to force a parliamentary vote on whether the government should reveal its plans for the UK’s future outside the EU before negotiations begin…
Of course, you might be inclined to say that the UK’s exit from the EU is a serious constitutional matter, not a poker game. But then, that would just mean you don’t understand the mentality of British politics.