There Will Be Hell, Toupé

The Official Trump Portrait is hung (but Trump isn’t)
[H/T Scissorhead Skinny-D]

I keep having an argument with myself about whether or not the Russian Usurper’s tweetage is strategic or not. Is he doing it as a distraction while his orcs, minions, and toadies do something else he doesn’t want us to see? Or is is that they know to use his nitwittery to their advantage? Generally, I think it is the latter, but then Axios has a scoop that undercuts my theory:

With the political world distracted by President Trump’s media wars, one of the most consequential and contentious internal debates of his presidency unfolded during a tense meeting Monday in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, administration sources tell Jonathan Swan and me.

The outcome, with a potentially profound effect on U.S. economic and foreign policy, will be decided in coming days.

With more than 20 top officials present, including Trump and Vice President Pence, the president and a small band of America First advisers made it clear they’re hell-bent on imposing tariffs — potentially in the 20% range — on steel.

Oh, shit.

One official estimated the sentiment in the room as 22-3 — but since one of the three is named Donald Trump, it was case closed.

Oh, shit.

Everyone else in the room, more than 75% of those present, were adamantly opposed, arguing it was bad economics and bad global politics. At one point, Trump was told his almost entire cabinet thought this was a bad idea. But everyone left the room believing the country is headed toward a major trade confrontation.

Oh, shit.

The reason, we’re told: Trump’s base — which drives more and more decisions, as his popularity sinks — likes the idea, and will love the fight.

Oh, shit.

The problem, according to top officials who argued strenuously that the move is ill-advised: The trade war wouldn’t just affect China. The collateral damage would include a slew of allies, including Canada, Mexico, Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Oh, shit.

Watch for: Trump was warned — and White House officials anticipate — that an affected industry like automakers is likely to seek a court injunction within hours of any tariffs on steel.

All of this sounds plausible to me; in fact, it reminds me of everyone telling Trump not to fire Comey, and we know how well he took that advice. Trump takes his base seriously, and if he thinks he needs their support, he throws red meat at them. This is probably the reddest meat he has (ew, gross).

I’m not an economist, but an instant 20% hike in materials cost would probably wipe out the profit margins of most manufacturing (I would guess). And not to split hairs, those costs will be passed on to us. If this comes to pass, you can bet that Ross Perot’s giant sucking sound will become a roar.

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6 Responses to There Will Be Hell, Toupé

  1. Ellis Weiner says:

    I don’t believe in any “deliberate distraction” theories. First, because few things Trump does are strategic, and second, it’s not like the news consists, any more, of morning papers and evening tv. It’s 24/7, and one moment’s distraction is easily–not to say compulsively, desperately–replaced by the next news item ten minutes later. There’s also an infinite amount of “space” in which to run any story that emerges; there’s no longer any real sense in which something gets kicked off the front page. Axios covering that story proves the point. The Internet is one huge, insatiable, constantly churning newspaper. Meanwhile, the steel tariff story is echt-Trump and will either go away as cooler heads prevail, or explode in his face over time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bruce388 says:

    Jared could straighten all this out. Too bad he’s busy bringing peace to the Middle East.


  3. I’ve been arguing with myself (I always win) about this for months and have concluded that Trump is desperate to get people on the teevee machine to stop talking about the actual Trump-Russia investigation itself. The nuts and bolts, IOW. And lately, aside from Maddow, I’m hearing mostly crickets.


  4. Jim says:

    I think it’s interesting that Trump’s ancient, eldritch Commerce Secretary proposed this tariff. Not only is it stupid and economically very damaging, the auto industry (and others) will definitely ask for an injunction, especially since there isn’t any justification, e.g. anti-dumping. If it does go into effect, it will likely pitch the economy straight into recession. The GDP growth rate is already very poor.


  5. paul fredine says:

    would i be considered a cynic if i said i really don’t think 45 is smart enough to use twitter like that without being told/instructed. there has to be someone pulling the strings, or, in this case, pushing the buttons.


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