Maybe I should restate that title a little. If you’re a Republican, you’re looking at the smoking remnants of the G-7 summit in Ottawa the way Napoleon looked over his shoulder at the battlefield of Waterloo. But if you’re a Democrat, you’re gazing over the field like Wellington, with a satisfied look on your face. In less than 24 hours, Trump may have driven the final nail in the lid of the GOP’s 2018 coffin.
Trump ran on the promise of running the country like he ran one of his businesses, and he’s being true to his word. The business he’s running the country like is the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. And the way things are going, it ain’t gonna take long before the same results play out again.
Trump hates the other leaders at the G-7 summit, so what else is new. And from the looks of Angela Merkel, leaning over with her fists on the table to talk to Trump, the feeling is more than mutual. But Trump. living as always in his own little fantasy world, made a grave miscalculation. Nobody thought to tell Hair Twitler that the days of US economic hegemony are long over.
The days of the Marshall Plan are sleep with the fishes. The US is no longer rebuilding the war shattered remnants of Germany, France, Great Britain, or any of them. If there is a problem for Trump, it’s that the Marshall Plan worked too well, the countries we rebuilt have strong, thriving economies of their own. And they aren’t about to take shit from some snotty little political nouveau riche like Trump.
You wanna get into a trade war with China, Donnie? The rest of the G-7 will tell you, “Have at it big boy, we’ll be cheering from the sidelines.” But, you wanna get into an economic pissing contest with pretty much the only friends you have left who will put up with your churlish behavior? Good luck pal, you’re about to find yourself bounced from the party, because they don’t need friends like you anymore.
Trump actually had a chance here. If he used the threats of tariffs as an opening gambit, and then showed up and started holding private meetings, opening some doors, it could have been a good move strategically. But no, Trump had to say things like, “I’m not saying like, ‘gee, I sure hope things change,’ Because things are going to change, 100%.” Or how about, “I’m not blaming other leaders, I’m blaming our past leaders. We’re like the piggy bank that everybody else keeps robbing.” I never read the book How To Win Friends And Influence People, but I doubt that comparing world leaders to thugs ripping off kids piggie banks was in any of the chapters.
With those words, His Lowness just lost the trade war. And he ensured that it will be longer, and more bitter than he had planned. It’s personal now. If he had used socially and diplomatically acceptable terms like “permanent trade imbalance,” and “long time unfair trade practices,” that would be business as usual. But comparing sovereign nations to your stoner college buddy that sleeps on your sofa and keeps lifting $20 from your wallet, is not going to end well. Trump has put national honor at stake now. He is not going to be able to end this trade war without concessions, and they won’t come from Mexico, Canada, and the EU. They are going to have to come from Trump, because, he made it personal, and this is the perfect excuse for these countries to show that the US is no longer Big Daddy.
The backlash is already starting. GOP Iowa Senator Jodi Ernst said on MTP Daily on Thursday that GOP Senators are going to have to educate their constituents they may face “Short term setbacks in order to achieve long term gains.” To which the farmers replied, “They damn well better be really short term, because our seeds are already in the ground for the next growing season. We set production levels expecting normal levels of demand.” Farmers were already grumbling about crops rotting in the fields last year due to a lack of migrant workers to pick them, thanks to Trump’s vicious anti immigrant rhetoric. That problem is expected to be even worse this year. But look at the bright side guys. What difference does it make next year how much stuff rots in the fields if nobody was going to buy it anyway?
Canada, the EU, Mexico, and even China have all surgically tailored their tariff items to hammer Trump constituencies, to put his popularity down the flusher. And it’s only gong to get worse. Here’s my prediction for the day. When Canada’s tariffs start to bite, Trump is going to do what he always does, double down. In his fury at being defied, he’s going to announce tariffs on Canadian lumber. That way he can say “Adios Muchacho” to the housing construction market too. And Canada will respond.
This isn’t going to take years folks. Trump let the tariffs start on June 1st, and I expect the responses will kick in by July. It won’t take long for the effects to be felt, mainly because US companies affected will jump the gun in raising prices to cushion the impact on their bottom line. People will probably start to feel the effect quickly, and even if they don’t, they’ll be bombarded nightly with dire warnings of the horrors to come from the “Trump Tariffs.” And when the economy starts to stall, and inflation starts to rise, the Republicans lose the last, feeble leg they had to stand on in 2018. And if in fact it leads to a recession, which is not unthinkable since we are in the second longest growth period in history, that will slop over into the primaries for 2020, and become a major campaign issue. At which point I’ll be the first one to stand and shout “Thank you, President Trump!”