April 22, 2018

I THINK IT’S SIGNIFICANT THAT THIS IS IN THE WEEKLY STANDARD: NeverTrumpers: What if Trump really is making America great again?

They are afflicted with a nagging suspicion. Trump might, how shall they whisper it, Make America Great Again.

The tax bill has given the economy a bit of a tailwind, most Americans have more money in their pockets, and corporations have greater incentives to step up spending and to bring some funds home. The NAFTA trade agreement with Mexico and Canada likely will be revised to America’s advantage. The president’s decision to punish Assad for crossing the red line that Obama refused to enforce is popular and his decision to defer to his military advisers and keep the response targeted so as not to induce a response from Russia has met with broad approval. His threats against North Korea—my nukes are bigger than your nukes—appalled the fastidious members of the establishment diplomatic community, but have Kim Jong-un claiming to be willing to negotiate a peace treaty with South Korea and détente with the United States.

Then there is China. Trump has done what previous administrations failed to do: forced China to make some concessions, opening at least a crack in the wall it has erected against imports. Majority-owned American financial firms will gain entry into several sectors, and tariffs on made-in-America automobiles will come down, while the United States tightens restrictions on intellectual property theft by the Chinese regime, in part by limiting China’s ability to buy tech-heavy U.S. firms. Even dyed-in-the-cotton-apparel free-traders are now conceding that the president’s negotiating tactic—threaten to bring down the international system, unless it gets fixed—is working. And should have been tried administrations ago. . . .

So here is BT and AT:

Before Trump, Assad could use chemical weapons with impunity; after Trump, he pays a steep price. BT, China could plunder American intellectual property and disregard the rules of the trading system that it has manipulated in its rise to power; AT, it fears Trump’s tariffs sufficiently to begin modifying its unfair trading practices. BT, Russia could wage cyberwar on the U.S. electoral system without fear of response from America; AT, Putin and his oligarch cronies find themselves being cut off from access to the world financial system. BT, the economy was mired in sub-trend growth; AT and his tax cut, growth is up. BT, in the post-war years most presidents projected a dignity of sorts; AT, presidential dignity is not even considered a virtue.

Seems like a fair deal.

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