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Mike Littwin

"The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles."

Littwin: The Trump presidency begins, and now we know what a Twitter war really looks like

Littwin: The Trump presidency begins, and now we know what a Twitter war really looks like

Donald Trump’s first international incident began, as many feared it would, with an injudicious early-morning tweet. Oh for those simpler times — you know, like, Wednesday — when press critics could naively suggest that the media ignore Trump’s more bizarre tweets, which, we were told, were meant to divert our attention from Trump’s dangerous  actions.

The problem with this strategy is that Trump’s tweets are the action. The renowned counter-puncher rules by reaction — and often that reaction is based on action prompted by either an off-hand, poorly thought out, tweet-like campaign promise (build a wall that Mexico will pay for) or a tweet itself (saying he won the popular vote, which he lost by 2.8 million, “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally”).

So we find ourselves on the verge of a trade war with our third-largest trading partner, which we have backed into a corner. And we find our president saying he will launch an investigation into voter fraud that everyone, including him, knows does not exist, but that he has to investigate anyway because, yes, he has backed himself into a corner. The list is long, of course, and it seems to get longer with each passing day. And, note to self, as I write this, Trump hasn’t been in office a week. As the line goes, I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat.

Let’s begin with Mexico. A week before Trump’s scheduled meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Trump issued his executive order to start building the wall and another to crack down on undocumented immigrants. As you may have noticed, these orders basically pre-empted much of the agenda that Trump would have been discussing with Peña Nieto, who acted the only way he could. He said, for the millionth time, that Mexico wouldn’t pay for the wall — of course, it wouldn’t; remind me of the last time that Nation X built a wall and made Nation Y pay for it — and that he would defend the rights of Mexicans everywhere.

And so Trump tweeted: “If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.”

And so Peña Nieto did cancel.

And so, Trump, now faced with the obvious fact that Americans would have to pay $15 billion and probably more for an unnecessary and obnoxious wall, had to do something to save face. While speaking at a GOP congressional retreat, he trotted out the idea of a 20 percent tax on imports, which, he said, could be used to make Mexico pay for the wall. His press secretary, Sean Spicer, then explained how this might work.

And so the media ran with it, even though Trump apparently didn’t mean a tax just on Mexico imports but on all imports, and even though it wouldn’t in any way mean that Mexico was paying for the wall. Apparently, this is part of a House plan for tax reform, which would pay for reduced tax rates with an American-style tax system on goods crossing the border. Up until Thursday, Trump had said the plan was way too complicated, but he cited it anyway because, desperate, he had to cite something.

The problems here are not hard to find. Any kind of border tax would be a tax Americans pay for Mexican goods — the avocado tax, some call it. And if there is some kind of border tax on Mexican goods, Mexico might well put its own border tax on American goods.

Then there’s this: If Trump acted in some way to hurt the Mexican economy, it would hurt, well, the American economy. Not only because Mexican-American trade rings in at more than $500 billion annually, and as many as 5 million American jobs are tied somehow to this trade, but because a depressed Mexican economy would put renewed pressure on the border, where illegal immigration from Mexico has been rapidly falling. As presidents since at least Reagan have understood, a healthy Mexican economy is good for America. But as Trump once told the Wall Street Journal — the quote is cited today in a scathing WSJ editorial on the Trump amateur hour — he doesn’t really care about Mexico’s economy.

But because this is Trump and because the ideas were half-baked and because even a seemingly compliant GOP Congress isn’t entirely compliant, Spicer had to come out later to explain that this wasn’t actually the plan. It was just “one” option of a plan, or as Reince Priebus later explained, part of “buffet” of plans, although he didn’t mention whether carne asada was on the menu.

Of course the really discouraging thing here is that Mexico is among the least complicated foreign-policy issues facing Trump — but one that he has made unnecessarily difficult. Mexico is our ally, despite centuries pre-Trump American bullying. It has remained our ally even as Trump mischaracterized Mexican immigrants as rapists. It remained our ally even as Trump demeaned the born-in-America, Mexican-American judge. It will remain our ally even as Trump tries out the twitter tactics that worked so well for him during the campaign. But a border war? An America-First NAFTA renegotiation? A phone call to discuss the crisis, after which Trump complains that Mexico has “beat us to a pulp” in past deals? There may be limits.

Then there’s the really hard stuff.  China. And Syria. And Russia. And Iran. And North Korea. And all the international alliances, all the trade agreements and climate agreements and dozens of others kinds of agreements. And on and on.

Who knows where it will all lead? But I can’t help imagining if Lewis Carroll was on twitter and needed just 140 characters to take us down the rabbit hole.

Photo illustration by DonkeyHotey via Flickr: Creative Commons

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About the Author

Mike Littwin

He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.
mlittwin@coloradoindependent.com | Twitter @mike_littwin

3 Comments

  1. BJ Goral on said:

    well that’s just one of many asinine things he has perpetrated this past week. What about torture? Apparently’ according to “der fuhrer” torture is a “good” thing. Does he ever think that’ maybe’ that gives other nations permission to torture Americans? He promised to “drain the swamp” now he is replacing it with a “nest of vipers.” WTF? Only 1452 more days of insanity. Remember to vote for the democrats in 2018; it’s our only salvation. If you voted for him thinking he would bring about good change then redeem yourself in 18.

  2. Don Lopez on said:

    Clown car gets Colorado Independent sponsorship for 2017 NASCAR season.

    After years of railing against politicians for not fulfilling campaign promises Mr. Littwin is now railing against a politician who is. This from thehill.com:

    “In his first frantic week at the White House, Donald Trump is doing almost exactly what he promised to do during his campaign, stunning those who thought he’d adapt his style as president.”

    Mr. Littwin’s problems with understanding President Trump go back to his admission that, “I still have no idea how or why Trump was elected.” Of course, a lack of understanding has never stopped Mr. Littwin in the past but in the current political climate he is lost. Bigly.

    ”Barack Obama walked off the stage with 60 percent approval ratings.” Mike Littwin January 20, 2017

    ”Barack Obama walked off the stage with 60 percent approval ratings.” Mike Littwin January 24, 2017

    But Mr. Littwin’s willingness to discuss former President Obama’s approval ratings only goes so far which explains why he—-and the media echo chamber—-ignored this Gallup report as outlined in this story from Investor’s Business Daily:

    “Yet despite the media’s fixation with polls, the press completely buried one of the more newsworthy poll findings — a Gallup report that came out last Friday, which took a final look at the President Obama’s popularity over his eight years in office.

    Only three presidents scored worse than Obama since Gallup started doing these surveys in 1945: never-elected Gerald Ford (47.2%), one-termer Jimmy Carter (45.4%), and Harry Truman (45.4%).
    Obama even did worse overall than Richard Nixon, whose average approval was 49%, and was less popular overall than George W. Bush, who got an average 49.4%.

    As Gallup notes: “After his first year, he received sustained majority approval only once more during his first term in office,” and “shortly after his second term began, his support dipped back into the 40s and did not return to the majority level again until his final year in office.

    In other words, the public had high hopes for Obama when he came into office, and liked him when he was largely irrelevant in his final months. But while Obama was actually governing, the public consistently disapproved of the job he was doing.

    That story never got told, because for eight long years a smitten press desperately tried to avoid covering anything that made Obama look bad.
    Hiding news that doesn’t fit an ideological or a partisan agenda is perhaps the worst form of media bias. And it’s one more reason the public holds the press is such low esteem.”

    How could Mr. Littwin have missed those results? Possibly because he didn’t want to write: “Barack Obama walked off the stage with 60 percent approval ratings but overall was less popular than Richard Nixon.”

    “Anger rarely wins in American politics.” – Mike Littwin

    It’s unclear whether Mr. Littwin still believes that. His beliefs are so, well, fluid but his approval of the so-called Women’s March seems to suggest he may have shifted positions (surprise, surprise) on the effectiveness of anger in politics.

    As Mr. Littwin struggles to reconnect with a world that no longer exists he continues to grasp at straws that won’t support his beliefs or his weight. His latest reach for relevance is the Women’s March—-or as he calls it “a counter-inaugural demonstration”.

    Whether its purpose was to warn President Trump to keep “his tiny hands off the First Amendment” or “to humiliate (President Trump)” it was too little, too late. The deadline for meaningful action was November 8th. These types of marches are little more than group therapy.

    Will this demonstration make a difference? Here’s what Margaret Wente globeandmail.com thinks:

    “But will this weekend’s march change history? Not a chance. Women’s solidarity is a mirage. Forty-two per cent of U.S. women voted for Donald Trump. Among white women, it was 53 per cent. The people we saw on Saturday simply reflected the Democratic base: big-city urban and suburban professionals, overwhelmingly white, along with people from minority groups. I liked the festive air – the pink “pussy hats,” the cheeky signs, the people dressed up as vaginas. But the keynote speakers – Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis, and Madonna – were relics from another age. Let’s face it. The heady, glorious days of feminism are far behind us.”

    And if you think Mrs. Wente’s opinion is a one-off here’s what CNN’s Salena Zito had to say”

    “The message of the march was muddled, thorny and divisive. If this movement is to be successful where it counts, in local legislative races that eventually filter up to the federal level, there needs to be more cohesiveness and less exclusivity. The thing is, the movement has to decide what the movement is about, other than being against Trump.

    When it comes to displeasure with the election results, iconic feminist Gloria Steinem didn’t even pretend to quell her sentiments. After speaking at the march, she told the press her message to President Trump was: “It was time for him to leave” the presidency, one day after being sworn in.

    The march was also not inclusive. Feminists who were pro-life but supportive of social justice issues like gender equality and immigration rights were uninvited. Linda Sarsour, a Brooklyn-born Palestinian-American Muslim racial justice and civil-rights activist, told The New York Times, “If you want to come to the march you are coming with the understanding that you respect a woman’s right to choose.”

    That statement potentially left out one in six pro-life women who supported Hillary Clinton,according a Pew Research survey.”

    And here’s what Time magazine’s Mary Eberstadt had to say:

    “Consider the about-face by the Women’s March. No event in our time has been heralded as more diverse and inclusive of women everywhere — until an antiabortion group called New Wave Feminists took the marchers at their word and tried to join ranks. They got the boot. “The Women’s March’s platform is pro-choice, and that has been our stance from day one,” the excluders explained.”

    So was this really a Women’s March or was it simply an anti-Trump demonstration where a majority of the demonstrators were women who favored abortion? The answer would seem to be the latter.

    But what’s really interesting about this march is the number of progressives who embrace the concept of inclusion but oppose its practice.

    Mr.“no one has any idea what comes next” Littwin believes the women’s marchers “have found in Trump the perfect foil.” As the late, great Yogi Berra might say that’s deja vu all over again. Last June Mr. Littwin suggested that Mrs. Clinton had “found, in Trump, the perfect long-awaited foil.”

    How’d that work out?

    And we are now getting a glimpse into what Mr. Littwin really thinks of those who voted for President Trump and it ain’t pretty: according to Mr. Littwin Trump voters, “should have known better”. If that sounds a little condescending it’s only because it is.

    It’s a shame everyone isn’t as smart as Mr. “I still have no idea how or why Trump was elected.” Littwin.

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    November 08, 2016

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Greenlight a Vet

    Folds of Honor

    Special Operations Warriors Foundation

    Garysinisefoundation.org

    Veterans Day – November 10, 2017

  3. Chris C on said:

    Shawn Spicer sure licks the anus of the mad king trump! He can make any lie told by the mad king sound like the truth. Impeach the mad king before he starts a war with the rest of the world. Impeach. Impeach the mad king.

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