Wednesday, August 19, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He got tricked into calling for a boycott of a major American manufacturer in a swing state.

At 10:33 A.M. this morning, Trump tweeted this a call to boycott Goodyear.

This is false. No such "ban" exists at Goodyear.

The tweet came during the long daily hours euphemistically referred to as "executive time" in which Trump watches TV and tweets from the White House residence. In this case, he appears to have been triggered to tweet by a Fox News segment that had run just moments before.

Manipulating Trump through television is an old trick by now. It's not clear how much of the Fox segment Trump saw or understood, but in reality, Goodyear has a policy that encourages employees to keep all campaign gear—MAGA hats and Biden T-shirts alike—out of the work place. The company was forced to put out a statement explaining this. 

Goodyear is the sixth-largest manufacturer in the industrial swing state of Ohio. It employs 3,000 people in the city of Akron alone, and approximately 64,000 nationwide. Unemployment in Ohio currently stands at 11%. It's also the only American tire company in the top ten worldwide. Its stock dropped sharply after Trump's tweet.

Of course, consumers can choose to buy or not buy Goodyear tires for any reason they like—including Trump's demands. But the company is a major contractor for the United States government, including the military and the Secret Service. (It makes the puncture-proof tires on Trump's armored limousine.) He hasn't said whether his call for a boycott means he'll use the federal contracting process to punish Goodyear for the anti-Trump policy it doesn't have.

Goodyear joins a long list of American manufacturers Trump has savaged in public, including US Steel, Boeing, Harley Davidson, and General Motors.

How is this a bad thing?

  • American workers keeping scarce manufacturing jobs during the worst unemployment crisis since the Great Depression is more important than the president's feelings.
  • This wouldn't be a good thing even if Trump weren't completely wrong about what Goodyear had done.