Donald Trump is currently abroad, attending the G-7 summit in France. On Sunday morning, a reporter asked Trump about his escalating trade war with China, wondering if he had any regrets about antagonizing the world’s second largest economy.
“Yeah, sure. Why not,” said Trump, when pushed on whether he was having second thoughts.
“Might as well,” he continued. “Might as well. I have second thoughts about everything.”
His statement was a rare admission of doubt and uncertainty from a person diametrically opposed to any semblance of weakness. So uncharacteristic were his comments, the New York Times saw fit to send out a news alert with his remarks shortly past 5 AM Eastern Time,
Within hours though, the gaslighters working in the White House kicked into overdrive, seeking to “clarify” Trump’s comments by suggesting he never said he had second thoughts about his trade war with China, but rather his only regret was not raising tariffs even higher.
It turns out even his second thoughts have second thoughts.
The effects of Donald Trump’s unilateral standoff with China have already started to manifest in the U.S. economy. In response to the White House raising tariffs on Chinese goods, China has responded by imposing tariffs of their own, hitting U.S. auto manufacturers and agricultural workers especially hard.
Starting on September 1, China says it will impose a further 5% tariff on soybeans and a 10% hike on pork. Futures for both products slumped, as did the economic forecasts for other agricultural products like cotton, as well as manufacturing companies with close ties to the agriculture sector, like John Deere.
Trump’s trade war is testing the patience of American farmers, a key constituency that propelled him into the White House in the first place. The National Farmers Union, which represents roughly 200,000 family farmers across the country, issued a scathing statement on Friday after China announced their latest retaliatory tariffs, slamming the White House for worsening their economic situation since Trump took office, rather than alleviating it.
“Between burning bridges with all of our biggest trading partners and undermining our domestic biofuels industry, President Trump is making things worse, not better,” the statement read. Earlier this month, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue made an appearance at a gathering for farmers in Minnesota and was promptly booed off stage after cracking a joke at farmers’ expense.
In addition to their economic implications, Trump’s conflicting statements on Sunday perfectly encapsulate the defining quality of his administration: unapologetic incompetence.
Framing Trump’s fleeting regret over launching a trade war with an economic superpower as having “second thoughts” is likely too generous an interpretation, because it implies Donald Trump gave it a moment’s thought in the first place. His entire political agenda is based on the regurgitation of whatever soundbite or cockamamie idea is whispered into his ear by an ideologue with White House credentials or piped onto his television most recently, which then ricochets around his vacant head until it worms its way into a tweet or out of his mouth at an impromptu press conference next to Marine Force One. What so often comes across as “second guessing” is, in fact, Donald Trump coming face to face with his own words and decisions for the very first time outside the comfort of his aides and allies, and feebly trying to have an original thought about them before being quickly corralled back to safety by his handlers.
Just because his set is now the White House instead of a “board room” constructed on a sound stage doesn’t mean Donald Trump is without executive producers.