Trump spent his morning Twitter time ranting about his new trade war, which seemed to come out of nowhere and with no warning despite all Trump’s campaign promises on trade. Perhaps no one took his rantings about U.S. trade policy seriously on the campaign trail, but their devastating effect on the economy will have to be taken seriously now. Where did Trump’s sudden vehement need to impose tariffs on U.S. imported goods come from after thirteen months in the presidency, however?
It is that fourth tweet that is so telling. Trump’s sudden all-consuming focus on starting a trade war serves only one purpose in his mind, and that is to distract from the exploding scandals and deepening criticism surrounding him over the Trump/Russia probe, a staff full of aides and top officials working without security clearance and defecting at the first opportunity, his affair with a porn star while his wife recovered from childbirth, and any number of other stories in the news that hurt his chances for reelection in 2020.
Comparisons of Trump to Nixon are cliche at this point, but a comparison to Nixon on trade is too important not to note here.
‘Nixon in 1971 quit the Bretton Woods agreement and imposed a surtax on all imports. The “shock” disrupted the world economy and profoundly angered formerly trusting friends already uneasy over the war in Vietnam. But Nixon, who knew little and cared less about economics, had his eye fixed on one concern only: the 1972 election…Nixon governed not according to what would work in the long term, but according to “the prevailing mood of the two-thirds of the country he called the ‘constituency of uneducated people.’”
‘Nixon did indeed win in 1972. He also bequeathed his country not only the worst political scandal in its history to date, but a decade of stagflation that bore most heavily upon the very people Nixon claimed to champion. We’ve been there before; it looks like we’re returning there again.’
The American economy does not need a trade war. The American worker certainly does not need a trade war. Trump, however, needs a trade war for a good distraction, and here we are.
Twitter also called Trump out on his statements. See some of their best comments below.
Featured image via Getty/Alex Wong