Thursday, September 13, 2018


Politico reports:
In an alternate universe, President Donald Trump would be heading into the midterms relentlessly touting his stewardship of a strong economy with results that include historically low unemployment, solid economic growth, sky-high enthusiasm among small businesses and shattered records for job openings.

Instead, the president is repeatedly muddling that message with easily debunked falsehoods or hyperbole about the state of the economy while pressing on with unpopular trade wars that frustrate establishment Republicans and business groups worried about price increases. His undisciplined approach — coupled with his obsessing about the Russia investigation, Hillary Clinton and the 2016 election — is damaging what many Republicans say should have been a political slam dunk for the GOP heading into the fall.
And those aren't the only message-muddling distractions, as Gabriel Sherman notes:
According to sources, Trump has been furious at former economic adviser Gary Cohn and staff secretary Rob Porter for their apparent cooperation with [Bob] Woodward’s book. “Trump thinks he took Gary in and gave him a job when he was going nowhere at Goldman,” a Trump adviser told me. According to the adviser, Trump let it be known to Cohn and Porter that he would attack them publicly if they didn’t disavow the book. (On Tuesday, they both did.) “The president has had it,” a former West Wing official said. “When books like this come out, he tends to shut down and calls up people he sees on TV saying good things about him.”

But Trump’s anger over Woodward’s book is dwarfed by his continuing fixation on the anonymous New York Times op-ed. Sources told me Trump is “obsessed,” “lathered,” and “freaked out” that the leaker is still in his midst. His son Don Jr. has told people he’s worried Trump isn’t sleeping because of it, a source said. Meetings have been derailed by Trump’s suspicion. “If you look at him the wrong way, he’ll spend the next hour thinking you wrote it,” a Republican close to the White House said.
Sorry, Republicans, but it's hopeless. Trump can't focus on talking up the economy because whenever a new or perceived enemy pops up, he has a compulsion to declare total war against that enemy. Today he's blaming the Democrats because a report on the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico made him look bad.

He's also obsessed with old enemies -- for instance, any country that has a trade deal with the U.S. (Every trade deal negotiated prior to Trump's presidency is the worst deal ever, according to Trump.)

If Democrats were challenging Trump on the economy, the conflict might get his juices flowing. But Democrats aren't doing that -- they're arguing (correctly) that the good numbers now are just a continuation of the progress made when Barack Obama was president, and they're questioning the wisdom of Trump's trade war and of the budget-busting, unevenly distributed tax cuts. But no Democrat is against GDP growth and low unemployment.

As a result, Trump can't motivate himself to focus on the economy. He needs an enemy. He needs someone getting in his face and saying that the unemployment rate and GDP suck. Democrats aren't doing that -- so Trump simply has no choice. He has to follow his compulsions and engage in pointless vendettas instead. Damn sneaky Democrats!

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