No one seems to like Trump’s tariffs except for Trump.
My take: The economic costs are real, as are the political and geopolitical risks, but Trump got elected in large part to stand up to China on trade. The president simply doesn’t care that economic elites from the center-right to the center-left establishment are tut tutting over his tactics. And he believes he can go longer than the Chinese can in dealing with the domestic implications of a trade war. Trump is watching both the clock (the daily agricultural pain and the stock market levels) and the calendar (November, 2020), and he likes his odds. He still thinks he can get the Chinese to blink first.
Biden Finds More Safe Ground
Tells AP he is for “fair trade,” defends NAFTA backing, and borrows 2020’s Democratic candidate classic dodge phrase (“something we should take a really hard look at”) when asked about breaking up Facebook.
My take: Biden’s unfurled trade position (the past is past, using the term of art “fair trade” about the present and future) will get him through the night (and the next several days at least). And his staff has been paying attention to Kamala Harris and other rivals, who know that they can buy some time with the press (if not necessarily with all voters) by saying something should be “looked at” or “discussed” in order to avoid taking an actual position.
Rosenstein Takes on Comey
Rift between two law enforcement titans grows.
My take: Rosenstein’s dismissal of former FBI topper as a book-shilling “partisan pundit” reflects the fierce contest to shape the current political fights, define the contours of investigations to come, and try to win the battle for the history books. If past is prologue, these hot remarks will incite Comey, not shut him up.
New York Times Columnist Plays Down Liberal Twitter
Read this Michelle Goldberg piece on Biden’s edge.
My take: I can’t improve on her closing paragraph — “In his own horrific way, Trump seemed to expand the possibilities of American politics, making it seem as if the old rules of electability no longer applied. Many of us assumed that the expansion would go in both directions, since Trump’s rise represented such a catastrophic failure of the political center. But there are a lot of Democrats who don’t want a revolution, or even a protracted political fight. They just want things to be the way they were before Trump came along, when ordinary people didn’t have to think about Twitter at all.”
Buttigieg Slow Jams the News
Mayor Pete slides into iconic “Tonight Show” gig.
My take: Being entertaining and comfortable on the NBC late-night show is a right of passage and gauntlet for any big-time presidential candidate. For Buttigieg, another key box checked.
The Big Four