"The Art of the Con": Trump's Chinese Tariff Performance Is Calculated to Make Him the Reality TV Hero "Negotiator" When Agreement Is Reached Soon

September 12, 2019



As with all things Trump, the man who occupies the White House has positioned himself at the center of a chaotic tariff war with China. His imposition of tariffs and tariff tweets have had a profound impact on everything from the stock market to reduced agricultural sales to higher consumer pricing. The mainstream corporate media follows his imposition of tariffs on China with rabid attention. Of course, Trump does a lot of teasing — as is his nature — promising to increase tariffs and then announcing that he might change his mind.

This is standard operating procedure for Trump. He’s the eye of the storm in his own reality TV show that produces a swath of destruction like Hurricane Dorian.

However, one needs to allow that Trump is not always as mercurial as he might appear. Consider the possibility that the China tariff roller coaster ride is an episode from “The Apprentice,” in which he positions himself to come to the rescue of the crisis that he has so flamboyantly created.

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After all, whenever the news cycle starts to appear to be focused on something other than Trump — his cruelty that knows no bounds starts to backfire — he has the China card to pull out of his pocket.

On Wednesday, he teased the China tariff issue a bit with this announcement, according to The Hill,

President Trump said Wednesday that the U.S. will delay an upcoming increase in tariffs on $250 billion worth of goods from China at the request of Beijing, calling it a “gesture of good will.”

Trump tweeted that he would push back tariffs set to go into effect on Oct. 1 to Oct. 15 at the request of Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He because the People's Republic of China will be celebrating its 70th anniversary on Oct. 1….

U.S. and Chinese officials, meanwhile, have agreed to meet to continue trade talks next month. Beijing earlier Wednesday said it would lift tariffs on some American-made goods, though the goods did not include agricultural products, like soybeans, sales of which have been severely impacted because of the trade war.

The Hill referred to a temporary “thawing” of Trump’s ginned up trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

Consider the scenario that Trump comes to an agreement with the premier of China, Xi Jinping this month or October. With the right timing, the announcement of a resolution to the trade war would have enormous political advantages for Trump. The stock market would soar. Farmers would again be able to sell their crops to China. Consumers would see a halt to rising prices on many consumer products. His base would be energized by seeing Trump reinforce his skilled negotiator (make believe) role on “The Apprentice.”

Remember, this hypothetical end to the Chines trade war doesn’t have to be a good agreement for the US. Trump knows that he just needs to make it appear to be a grand success, as he blusters about how he made the Chinese concede to his terms. As is well-established fact, Trump has normalized lying into acceptable presidential behavior. The Chinese trade agreement, were it to come to pass, will likely leave the US not much better off in terms of the trade imbalance with China, but Trump excels at packaging failures as successes.

As I wrote yesterday, Trump is not necessarily the buffoon that he sometimes plays. I analyzed how he used SharpieGate, and it is into its second week now, to distract media and public attention from his objectionable policies and actions.

With the China tariff war, Trump is creating and acting out a prolonged tension-filled and punishing prologue to his riding to the rescue of his own disaster by positioning himself as the great negotiator-in-chief, even if he’s harmed the US in the process.

After all, this is a reality TV episode from the guy who has his name on a book, “The Art of the Deal,” which really should have been called “The Art of the Con.”

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