Dealing with Presidential Snit

Terry H. Schwadron

June 8, 2018

Here’s a salute, of sorts, to the Presidential Snit.

Expression of a snit, a messy, ill-directed declaration of disappointment and dissatisfaction from the president, obviously creates problems for making good government policy, for maintaining personal relationships, but maybe, just maybe, it is good politics in Trumpworld.

Publicly blaming the six allies for having the gall to stand up to him confirms Trump’s United States as the outsider in the group it created to galvanize commonality. To promise ahead of time to walk out in the middle of meetings where leaders from allied nations are sure to disagree with him is simply childish. Pimping for the re-inclusion of Russia into what would become the G-8 again (Russia was banned after the incursions into Ukraine and the Crimea) raise anew questions of Trump’s relationship with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Again, that Donald Trump is an egotist is not news. But the fact that Trump can see a united front among allies hurt by U.S.-imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum, that he can see a singular coalition that sees need for involvement in climate change policies, that he can see unhappiness across the board with an America First policy should give the president momentary pause.

Instead, we get the Snit — a broad-brush hand-smack across the faces of porn stars, Democrats, anyone, really, who disagrees with him.

Just as with a Justice Department he sees as unreasonable because Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions recused himself, as required by law, from overseeing investigation of campaign-related influence attempts, Trump smacks imagined opponents with a broad brush. The Emmanual Macron he attacked in tweets yesterday for leading European anger about the tariffs is exactly the same Macron who was feted at the White House two weeks ago.

You’d hardly know that, though. The lasting legacies of the Trump administration will be the long line of people thrown under the Trump bus in pursuit of a slogan-driven set of campaigns based on emotion rather than fact, and the scars that those policies will leave on U.S. policy-making.

The attack on Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau goes after the same Trudeau whom
Trump has embraced time and again for the closeness of the nations’ shared vision of the world.

The Snit has ruined professional football watching as a national pastime, has made a mockery of respect for the courts and Congress, has inflamed and normalized heightened racial offenses. The Snit has denigrated women, people of color, and anyone who thinks that Israel cannot run rampant over any of its citizens in the name of national security. The Snit has allowed for immigrant families to be torn apart on the border.

None of this takes great insight. Indeed, the White House seems to trumpet the discord that Trump likes to sift into current events.

Per The New York Times account, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, announced that Trump will leave Canada at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, well before scheduled sessions on climate change, clean energy and oceans. He will attend an early-morning session on “women’s empowerment,” but he will be gone before any joint statement is issued by the other leaders.

“The American President may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a 6 country agreement if need be,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in an especially acerbic tweet. “Because these 6 countries represent values, they represent an economic market which has the weight of history behind it and which is now a true international force.”

This is from the single man whom Trump regards as his best overseas friend. Do we need to hear from people who actually oppose U.S. interests?

Combine the Snit with the acknowledgement, even boast, that Trump needs no particular preparation to talk nuclear weapons with Kim Jong-Un, because all anyone needs is a righteous attitude, and you have a formula for bad work. No one I know would enter into serious negotiations on a substantive matter without preparation.

The Washington Post noted that the twitter exchangeshighlighted Trump’s contrasting negotiating approaches to allies and adversaries. The president traded barbs with the French president just hours after his administration relaxed its punishment of the Chinese telecom company ZTE, a concession that could pave the way for a trade deal with China.In contrast, Trump has shown a willingness to conciliate China in hopes of a trade deal he can bill as a major achievement.

ZTE will pay a $1 billion fine and agree to fund a new in-house compliance team staffed by U.S. experts, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said. The move eases a seven-year ban on ZTE buying American parts that Commerce levied in April. At the time, the Chinese government complained that the action could put the company, a major employer and star of the Chinese technology industry, out of business and make it impossible to conclude a U.S.-China trade deal.

Another day, another Snit. This one seems to matter.




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