During a stop campaigning for Missouri Senate candidate Josh Hawley at a VFW hall in Kansas City on Tuesday — which our gleefully norm-shattering commander-in-chief treated more like a campaign rally than a taxpayer-funded event — President Trump broached the topic of tariffs.
The president insisted that despite all the lost agricultural revenue, despite the damage already done to marquee American businesses, and despite the bad headlines, his bellicose trade policy is actually good news for everyone. Or, as he put it on Twitter earlier in the day, “Tariffs are the greatest!”
And, in a line for the ages, Trump neatly encapsulated both his entire political strategy, and his opinion of the people who vote for him.
If retaining base support is his goal, the president’s strategy of straightforward reality distortion is working fairly well. A Pew poll last week showed that 73 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters approved of the tariffs, a startling result for a party that once championed free trade as one of its defining policy planks.
But in a concession that all is not well on the ground, the Trump administration announced on Tuesday a $12 billion, Democratic Socialist-style bailout for farmers who have seen their businesses harmed by rising prices and uncertainty that are the direct result of Trump’s policies.
Beyond a possible backlash among midwestern voters, the president faces a growing chorus of Republican Senators who are objecting to his economically senseless trade war in increasingly harsh times — though, in the spirit of the times, they are unlikely to do much about it.