A week or so after Trump’s election, I wrote a list of hopes and fears for his presidency. Of the dozen hopes I listed, Trump actually managed to fulfill six and initiate two more in his first year. On the fears side, he didn’t “succeed” in actuality, but he did make lots of the same noises that prompted the list’s compilations. Still, and his untethered Twitter habit and all-over-the-map-ness aside, it’s fair to grant that, to this Trump skeptic, what actually got done in 2017 was a very pleasant surprise.

Coaxed I was, just a bit, into Charlie Brown mode. I dared hope, for a moment, that Lucy wouldn’t pull the football away, despite the untethered orange id continuing to behave as he had. But, Lucy is Lucy, 2018 rolls in, and Trump decided to throw some stuff onto the fear side of the scale.

It remains to be seen what he actually does, given that much of what he said in 2017 didn’t come to fruition. Indeed, it might even be said that the system is working as intended, in some ways, given the thwarting (so far) of some of Trump’s desires (closed borders and that dumbass wall come to mind). But, this past week, we saw the sharpest and most clearly delineated “Bad-Trump” action so far: the announcement of major tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, followed up by BSD noises regarding trade wars. See: Fear #1.

Shockingly (no, not at all, given that the Cult of Trump is rivaling the Cult of Obama), people are defending these tariffs and the notion of engaging in trade wars. If Trump’s doing them, they must be Good Things, it seems.

No, they’re not. Anyone who pays attention to history knows this. Tariffs and trade wars are things that unions, leftists, and rent seekers like, and none of those three give one whit about the broader economy and the average American. Some conservative apologists are calling these announcements chess moves, or bargaining chips, or negotiating gambits. I don’t buy it. It’s been clear from the get-go that Trump actually believes this stuff, just as he actually believed that deregulation would be good for the economy. He was right about the latter, but he’s dead-wrong about tariffs and trade wars.

Is it disappointing? Only insofar as there was hope Trump would be not-Trump on the bad stuff, and that’s the Charlie Brown optimist’s delusion. The real disappointment lies in seeing so many who decried the Obama cult of personality engaging in contortions and outright sophistry to defend the indefensible. And, no, “but Hillary!” is not a justification for failing to criticize Trump when he does something wrong.

The Press has debased itself by going non-linear on every adjective that Trump utters (and boy, does he love his adjectives), but that excess does not justify defending blatantly wrong ideas. If you can’t bring yourself to be critical of Trump when he does wrong, you give us no reason to consider any of your opinions. It’s OK – you can call him out on this and other missteps without ceding victories to your ideological foes.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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