Trump today shifted positions on Ex/Im Bank, Yellen, China currency manipulation, and NATO being “obsolete.”
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) April 12, 2017
Let’s turn to Mike ‘Payola’ Allen writing in the Axio morning email thingie:
How we got here … Trump campaigned as an ardent and unapologetic nationalist, but in less than a week Trump has morphed into a guy who could almost be mistaken for a conventional Republican president, Axios’s Jonathan Swan points out.
Trump appeared in the East room yesterday and gave remarks that could’ve come from the mouth of George H.W. Bush. In the past six days, President Trump has:
- Fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian government airbase to respond to Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons attack on his own citizens.
- Belittled Steve Bannon in an interview with the New York Post.
- Stood in the White House next to the Secretary General of NATO and declared the alliance is “no longer obsolete.”
- Hosted China’s President Xi at Mar-a-Lago and said they had great “chemistry” and “bonding.”
- Told the Wall Street Journal he no longer plans to label China a currency manipulator, despite repeated campaign promises to do so “on day one.” (“They’re not currency manipulators,” Trump said.)
- Promised to repair the world during his presidency, not just America: “The world is a mess,” Trump said in the East Room press conference Wednesday. “By the time I’m finished, it’s going to be a lot better place to live in because, right now, it’s nasty.”
- Talked with deep feeling about a foreign humanitarian crisis.
- Jettisoned Vladimir Putin, whom he’d resisted criticizing until now. “We might be at an all time low with Russia,” Trump said on Wednesday.
Cautionary note: Trump has been all over the policy map when it comes to issues he hasn’t given much thought to (social issues, healthcare, Ex-Im Bank). But nationalism has been consistent in his speeches since the late 1980s. He’s talked about foreign countries ripping America off, and even in his NATO appearance he gently ribbed the Secretary General about getting the other nations to pay up. Nationalism is one of the few things Trump’s been consistent about for 30 years, those instincts are as hard-wired as anything in his make up; let’s see how long this version of Trump lasts.
…and not to be outdone, his previous gig Tiger Beat on the Potomac (thanks Charlie!) morning email thingie tells us breathlessly:
WEST WING WHIPLASH — Before: Trump said NATO is obsolete. Now: Trump said NATO is a “great alliance.” Before: Trump said it would be great if the U.S. and Russia could get along. Now: Trump says the U.S. and Russia are not getting along, and Rex Tillerson says “There is a low level of trust between our countries.” The president intimated that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad consulted Russia before launching a chemical attack on its people. Before: The Trump administration’s foreign policy mantra was “America First.” The U.S. wouldn’t promote regime changes in places like Syria. Trump criticized U.S. involvement in the Middle East. Now: Trump is involved in the Middle East, and depending on who you talk to, the U.S. government would like to topple Assad …
… Before: China is a currency manipulator and could easily convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions. Now: China is not a currency manipulator, and its relationship with North Korea is complicated. Before: The Export-Import Bank has to be eliminated. Now: The Export-Import Bank is important.
… Before: Trump says he’s moving on from health care. Now: He says there will be a vote to repeal and replace Obamacare.
THE REALITY: This is governing on the fly. Gone is the ardent post-election populism — for now. After weeks of bruising headlines and backlash over some of his administration’s more conservative positions, Trump is embracing policy and people that are much more mainstream.
As we’ve said before, Trump changes positions like a $10 hooker with a bad back. He’s a narcissist: where ‘ere he gets the most strokes is where he’s going. He is an applause-o-meter taken human form: he has no positions, except Grifters Gotta Grift. Everything else is just him winging it.
TRUMP: I was sitting at the table. We had finished dinner. We’re now having dessert. And we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen and President Xi was enjoying it.
And I was given the message from the generals that the ships are locked and loaded, what do you do?
And we made a determination to do it, so the missiles were on the way. And I said, Mr. President, let me explain something to you. This was during dessert.
We’ve just fired 59 missiles, all of which hit, by the way, unbelievable, from, you know, hundreds of miles away, all of which hit, amazing.
BARTIROMO: Unmanned? Brilliant.
Unmanned missiles. And that, Ladies and Germs, is our press hard at work.