Thursday, March 15, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He claimed (today) that he was lying yesterday when he said yesterday he'd lied to the Canadian prime minister.

Yesterday, during a fundraising speech in Missouri, Trump regaled his audience with a story in which--by his own account--he insisted to Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau that the US had a trade deficit with Canada, when in fact he had no idea if that was true. In Trump's telling, after Trudeau said that the United States was not at a trading deficit with Canada, he responded: "‘Wrong, Justin, you do.’ I didn’t even know. … I had no idea. I just said, ‘You’re wrong.’ You know why? Because we’re so stupid."

Having apparently forgotten last night that people might be recording his words, Trump spent this morning trying to walk back the story. He insisted he hadn't been guessing, and that in any event he'd guessed correctly. He tweeted, "Justin Trudeau of Canada, a very good guy, doesn’t like saying that Canada has a Surplus vs. the U.S.(negotiating), but they do...they almost all do...and that’s how I know!"

In fact, according to the office of the United States Trade Representative, the US had a net trade surplus of $12.5 billion with Canada in 2016.

Incidentally, it's possible that Trump was simply making the whole thing up--lying even about the part where he lied. While Trump and Trudeau have talked several times, the Canadian government isn't sure what meeting Trump is talking about with this story.

So what?

  • Presidents shouldn't lie to the leaders of allied countries.
  • Presidents who do lie to allied leaders and then brag about it in public are doing something incredibly stupid.
  • A president who can't or won't acknowledge facts when they're inconvenient can't do the job.
  • A president who thinks that a country with a trade deficit is somehow "losing" money is economically illiterate.