Don’t make fun of yourself. President Donald Trump is not risking an international trade war to fulfill a campaign promise. It has nothing to do with reducing tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from China and other countries. It has everything to do with what Trump cares about most: his image.
For more than a year, the president has struggled with the growing awareness that his surprise victory might not have been possible without the aid of Russian operatives who, according to the FBI, waged an “information war against the United States of America” against Hillary Clinton. Smashed the campaign and helped Trump.
Losing the popular vote meant that some were already viewing him as an illegitimate president. But as the picture of Russia’s cyberattacks becomes clear, its arrogance must contend with another painful adjective: Trump is not only illegitimate. he is weak.
This is not possible in Trump’s mind. He won over his image as the toughest guy in the room. Jeb Bush was low-energy. Marco Rubio was young. Ted Cruz was lying. Clinton was devious and evil. America was going to hell, and the only person to make it great again was Donald J. Trump was.
cartoon on president donald trump
Trump’s troubles have increased. The US intelligence community expects Russia to continue its attack on the upcoming midterm elections. US spy chiefs have said Trump has not ordered any restraints. These facts put the president in a pickle. To do something about Russia would be a genuine acknowledgment of weakness. Nothing to do either. So Trump is between a rock and a hard place. And there is nothing to be done except anger.
So why we’re debating the pros and cons of import tariffs, a debate that has nothing to do with tariffs and everything to do with the president’s growing fears, will soon be known.
I think Trump thinks it’s a safe gamble because it has worked before. In the last jam, he punched. But industries that consume steel are not the same as minorities, women, immigrants, the disabled and groups that cannot be expected to punch back with equal vigor. Fate is at stake, not to mention hundreds of thousands of white, working-class jobs.
Again, Trump is not in a win-win situation. If it follows the tariffs, it will thrill a fraction of its base, literally over 200,000 people and the rest of the mills not employing them. However, if he moves forward, it will anger some of his biggest supporters: the metal-consumption industries hire workers whose livelihoods could be at risk because of tariffs.
There cannot be another win-win situation if the president backs down. Although a sigh of relief for supporters in the metal-consuming industries, it would be a sign of weakness for the 200,000 people working in the steel and aluminum mills (and perhaps a relief to supporters that they changed their minds about tariffs). . Worse, the retreat would be the result of Republican pressure. In other words, in retreat, Trump may have sent a signal to supporters that he is not a man powerful enough to make American great again. He really is a weak president.
Trump’s genius has been in admitting, well, that many Americans don’t know much about policy, don’t know they don’t know and don’t care to know they don’t. He rightly assumes that many Americans have less confidence in their ability to judge policy details than they do to judge a person’s “character.” As long as Trump can maintain an image of strength, being right or wrong on the policy is beside the point.
Many wonder how the most unpopular of modern presidents can be down nearly 35 percent in approval polls. I think it’s because — no matter how ridiculous Trump is, no matter how wrong he is, no matter how corrupt and infantile — his strong image goes a long way in keeping him from going down. Again, that’s because Trump is essentially right about a good portion of the electorate: “Character” is what matters most.
But when a president has nothing else to offer, not even a sense of humor, character can be a brittle thing. Once doubt is created in the mind of the voter, it is difficult to clear it out. Once present, each passing day with news about Russia and tariffs serves to deepen the grip of doubt on the mind, reducing the president’s elaborate illusions of a man who wants to make America great again. can make. If Trump’s base loses an ounce of trust, it’s the beginning of the end.
This is the reason why Trump fights so hard. Yes, it’s about his ego, but a seasoned grifter like Trump knows he has nothing to do when Scar starts to lose trust. Actual tipping points are rare, but it seems to have an earning point of no return. If Trump does anything about Russia, he looks weak. Nothing is weak. If he acts on the tariff, he puts his base at risk. If it doesn’t work, it’s weak. At some point, supporters are going to feel free to say they didn’t really Everyone so much like Trump, and this, I hope, is the reason.