From the moment he took office, President Trump has repeatedly experienced buyer’s remorse.
In the last week, the president has undermined a key member of his administration and reversed course on his own foreign and economic policies. At least twice. This should come as no surprise. It’s standard operating procedure for the Trump White House.
The downside of his ineffectual leadership ultimately affects all Americans. Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal; whether you support his policies or not, we are in trouble because of President Trump’s indecisiveness.
We need and deserve a leader who truly knows how to lead. We expect that of our elected officials. It doesn’t matter who voters cast their ballots for, once a man or woman assumes office, we expect them to govern the nation and serve the American people to the best of their ability.
President Trump promised to “Make America Great Again” and to put America first. By acting in a wishy-washy manner, he demonstrates he is incapable of doing either.
On the campaign trail, the president promised he would be tough with our adversaries. That he would pull out of NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). That he would punish those he believed were treating the U.S. unfairly. He did so by slapping tariffs on international trade partners, including some of our closest allies.
When it was explained to the president – repeatedly – that tariffs might provoke economic retaliation, he walked things back by carving out exemptions – allegedly temporary – for fellow NAFTA members Canada and Mexico. He’s now considering trade “exceptions” for Australia. Japan, South Korea, Brazil, and the European Union are seeking similar treatment. He’s thinking about it.
With a stroke of his pen, the president kept a campaign promise and issued an Executive Order, days after taking office, withdrawing the U.S. from the TPP. After doing so, China launched a full-court press in hopes of becoming the dominant trade force throughout the Pacific Rim. Not such a good thing for those of us here at home, as the result would be a weakened American economy and a diminished role in international trade.
Our domestic economic health is dependent upon participating in the global economy, not detaching ourselves from it. Isolation ultimately hurts all Americans.
Someone must have schooled the president on this. He’s subsequently taken steps to tear up one of his signature economic policies, and reconsider whether withdrawing from the TPP would be as advantageous – or intelligent – a choice as he’d originally believed. Until he decided he wasn’t sure.
The president wants to “renegotiate” the TPP. Hard to do when it’s an agreement you’re not a party to. No matter, late this past Tuesday, the president changed his mind yet again, saying he doesn’t think the TPP represents a good deal for the U.S. Well, which is it, Mr. President?
The economic reforms President Trump has proposed or enacted are regularly being walked back. For the simple reason that they will not work. Should the tax plan he so strongly supported begin to falter and the deficit skyrocket, he will likely disown that as well.
What’s next? Will he soon repudiate EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, acknowledge that climate change is a reality, and renounce his withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord?
When it comes to foreign policy, the president doesn’t fare any better.
The Washington Post has reported that, after expelling 60 Russian diplomats in response to the Russian government’s attempts to poison one of its former spies who was quietly residing in England, he exploded in anger. While being briefed, he was apparently “distracted” and didn’t realize how large the number would be or what exactly he was ordering. Don’t be surprised if those same diplomats are invited back to the U.S. with open arms in the near future.
Anything related to Russia or Vladimir Putin is subject to presidential flip-flopping.
After dumping hundreds of millions of dollars of ordnance on Syria last week in response to President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical assault on innocent civilians, President Trump announced that he was also imposing new sanctions on Syria’s benefactor, Russia. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said as much last Sunday morning on NBC’s “Face the Nation.”
Though Haley apparently made her announcement after consulting with the White House, the president, by proxy, hung her out to dry, denying further sanctions were on the horizon. His economic adviser Larry Kudlow – no expert on foreign policy – later told Fox News that “There might have been some momentary confusion about that.” Haley, who is no shrinking violet, had none of it, stating emphatically, “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.”
Unfortunately, the President of the United States does. Frequently.
The issue at hand is not one of policy. It is one of erratic behavior; of competence and determination. It’s about the president taking a position and sticking to it, rather than namby-pamby around and walk it back.
President Trump, given to hyperbole, has talked about the “big button” that sits on his desk. Here’s the thing. Once you decide to push the “big button” and nuclear warheads are halfway to their destination, it’s a little too late to reconsider your decision and call your missiles home. Because they ain’t comin’ back. No matter how “smart” they may be.