What are the odds of a Dick's and Hicks news cycle?
You remember that, right? It was long ago and far way — last week, during those few hours we were worried about corporate responses to the NRA and the latest departure of a key staffer from the Trump White House.
Yeah, good times. I'm already feeling nostalgic. But those magic moments were quickly eclipsed as Vladimir Putin announced soon thereafter that Russia had developed new invincible, unstoppable nuclear weapons that put our way of life in jeopardy. The U.S., said Putin, had no way to defend itself against these horrific weapons. The Free World would be putty in his hands. Mwah ha ha!
To his credit, President Trump quickly responded — tweeting at 5:40 a.m. the following day that "Alex" Baldwin's impersonation of him on Saturday Night Live was really bad and urging that SNL bring back Darrell Hammond.
As I write this, more than a week later, the president still hasn't deigned to acknowledge that our global arch-enemy's president has threatened us with annihilation. But again, it's last week's news. Since then, at least 119 other crazy things have happened to divert our attention.
Keeping up with this administration is like playing three-dimensional Whack-A-Mole. There's always a fresh distraction: Will he fire Jeff Sessions? Is Jared Kushner's security clearance in jeopardy? Will General McMaster leave? Will any more members of Trump's campaign team cop a plea? Is there a new wrinkle in Porn Star/Playmate-Gate? Will Trump play golf again this week? (Duh.)
Oh, and now we're going to have a trade war.
Let me quote the president's latest diplomacy-by-Twitter statement: "The United States has an $800 Billion Dollar Yearly Trade Deficit because of our 'very stupid' trade deals and policies. Our jobs and wealth are being given to other countries that have taken advantage of us for years. They laugh at what fools our leaders have been. No more!"
No more, indeed. Nope, nobody's laughing at our leaders now. At all. Well, maybe some are. To quote columnist Eugene Robinson: "I spent years as a foreign correspondent in Latin America. To say we are being governed like a banana republic is an insult to banana republics."
Trump added, in a following tweet: "When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win."
This is the kind of deep policy thinking Trump is famous for, and it quickly provoked responses from all of our allies and trading partners, because when you declare war, it's always best to do so against your friends.
Trump's war proclamation paid immediate benefits, however, as Swedish appliance manufacturer Electrolux announced the following day that it would delay a $250-million investment to expand and modernize a plant in Springfield, Tennessee.
"We are putting it on hold," company spokesman Daniel Frykholm said. "We believe that tariffs could cause a pretty significant increase in the price of steel on the U.S. market."
Canada and Great Britain also expressed outrage and threatened counter-measures. So much winning. It's like we're all in an episode of Two and Half Men and Trump is Charlie Sheen. Actually, now that I think about it, that's scarily accurate.
But in truth, I don't believe we should get all that excited over Trump's trade war bloviations. Three weeks ago, he met with members of Congress and vociferously backed immigration reform, only to reverse himself a couple days later after meeting with GOP leaders. And just last week, Trump accused Congressional leaders of being "afraid" of the NRA and urged them to insist on gun reform. That lasted 24 hours, as Trump reversed himself the next day after he met with the NRA. At this point, I think it's pretty clear that Trump "policy" pronouncements are just noise.
Robinson was right: We are being governed like a banana republic, and, frankly, that's an insult to bananas.