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Donald Trump Jacob Heilbrunn Politics US Politics

Is Trump underestimating the approaching disaster?

The President seems to regard hurricane cleanup efforts as being as easy as mopping up a bathroom floor after the tub has slightly overflowed

September 13, 2018

11:35 AM

13 September 2018

11:35 AM

Donald Trump should be in high spirits. Yesterday, a Washington, DC liquor board assessed whether it should yank his license to sell beer, wine and spirits at the Trump International hotel (the lawyer representing the group, Byron York notes on Twitter, also has Glenn Simpson/Fusion GPS as a client). It decided that ‘The board does not agree with the assumption that a character and fitness review may be initiated at any time.’

At issue was whether Trump, a lifelong teetotaler who has indulged in copious other vices to compensate for his one public act of self-restraint, is a man of low character who should not be permitted to sell alcohol. The complaint was funded by an Arizonan Republican named Jerry Hirsch who heads an organisation called Make Integrity Great Again. ‘Character and the rule of law comprise the foundation of our society, and yet both are under assault,’ Hirsch has stated. ‘This complaint is important because it is a test of both, at a critical time in American history.’ The neighbourhood committee seeking to revoke the Trump license even invoked the Anonymous op-ed in the New York Times accusing Trump of ‘amorality.’

Another shot, so to speak, was taken at Trump by J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon on Wednesday morning at an event in New York. He engaged in some Trump-like braggadocio. ‘I think I could beat Trump,’ he said, ‘because I’m as tough as he is, I’m smarter than he is.’ He added, ‘And by the way, this wealthy New Yorker actually earned his money. It wasn’t a gift from daddy.’ Then he retreated: ‘I should not have said it.’ The apprehension on Wall Street, of course, is that Trump’s budding trade war with China will induce a recession. Today the Wall Street Journal reports that the administration is pushing for a new round of negotiations to avoid imposing $200 billion in new tariffs. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin clearly does not want further tariffs and the Republican party can ill-afford them before the November elections, but Trump himself seems to be chafing for confrontation, or at least the appearance of one. He tweeted this morning, ‘The Wall Street Journal has it wrong, we are under no pressure to make a deal with China, they are under pressure to make a deal with us. Our markets are surging, theirs are collapsing. We will soon be taking in Billions in Tariffs & making products at home. If we meet, we meet?’

If Trump’s grasp on numbers is shaky when it comes to international trade, it’s even more tenuous when it comes to the natural disasters that have occurred on his watch. Even as Hurricane Florence is approaching the East Coast, Trump is focusing obsessively on relitigating his past performance. He’s claiming that his administration did a ‘great job’ in Puerto Rico, where thousands died.  But according to Trump, they didn’t. It’s all part of a Democratic plot to make him look bad by adding people who had died from old age to the rolls. Give credit to Trump for sheer intellectual fertility in his latest tweet: ‘3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000…’

This kind of malarkey is par for the course with Trump. But he’s also saying that the federal government is ‘absolutely totally prepared’ for the coming storm, which are words that could become an albatross in coming weeks. If Florence, a Category 4 storm, proves as devastating as predicted, it will take months to recover. Trump, though, seems to regard cleanup efforts as being as easy as mopping up a bathroom floor after the tub has slightly overflowed.

As Rick Wilson notes on this site, Trump’s flailing means that the stage is being set for a Republican wipeout this November. A new NPR/Marist poll confirms that the midterm elections look about as ominous as Hurricane Florence for the GOP. It says that the gap between voters prepared to vote for the Democratic party over the GOP has ballooned to a 12 point gap. In particular, Trump’s support in states such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota is eroding, partly as a result of his punitive tariff policies. Come this winter the GOP could be suffering from quite a hangover.


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