Dos to Tango

Donald Trump’s surprise visit to Mexico on August 31 has been analyzed every which way, except for one—the one that may, in the long run, prove most important.  While every journalist and political pundit felt compelled to speculate on what Trump hoped to gain from the visit, and whether it would help or hurt him, no one bothered to consider why Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto extended the invitation in the first place.  Since Peña Nieto invited both Hillary Clinton and Trump to discuss areas of mutual concern between Mexico and the United States before the November elections, the assumption on this side of the border seems to have been that the explanation was inherent in the invitation itself.

And yet, as the Mexican press and pundits understood, such an invitation was unprecedented.  On the face of it, Peña Nieto had nothing personally to gain from sitting down with Clinton, and much to lose from sitting down with Trump.  In fact, the scorn that he received from the Mexican press, fellow politicians (including the two previous presidents of Mexico), and the Mexican public was entirely predictable.  So what could he possibly have had in mind?

Simply this: Should Donald Trump triumph in November, it would be too late for Peña Nieto to approach the incoming president on an equal footing.  His options would be limited: He could adopt the fiery rhetoric...

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