Sunday, August 25, 2019

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Second Thoughts

It has already been a rollicking Sunday at the G-7 in Biarritz, France, and things are just getting started.

Bones of contention between Donald Trump and most of the other members: China, Russia, the environment, the meeting agenda, and more.

This extraordinary colloquy with the press at the Donald-Boris photo up that happened while you slept (or, while Vegas readers got ready to go out) will dominate the news until the president says something to change the trajectory:

Q    Mr. President, any second thoughts on escalating the trade war with China?
 
     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Yeah, sure.  Why not?
 
     Q    Second thoughts?  Yes?
 
     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Might as well.  Might as well. 
 
     Q    You have second thoughts about escalating the war with China?
 
     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I have second thoughts about everything.
[EMPHASIS ADDED OUT OF HISTORICAL NECESSITY]

On Trump’s China tariffs, Johnson is no lap dog, but he was a self-declared ewe, sitting with the POTUS: “Just to register the faint, sheep-like note of our view on the trade war, we’re in favor of trade peace on the whole, and dialing it down if we can.”

The Chinese on Sunday were in saber-rattling mode, with a statement of defiance in the People’s daily:  “[China] will never waver in its stand on countering any provocations by the US side.”

That followed this dagger from the Chinese Commerce Ministry: “The U.S. is going to reap what it has sown with such unilateral, protectionist bullying and extreme pressurizing.”

Per the Wall Street Journal, the G-7 is going to continue to be contentious, because most of its member are not big fans of Donald Trump’s China strategy.

Also contentious, per the Washington Post, Trump’s argument over Saturday’s dinner that Russia should be back in a reconfigured G-8, which the other members largely oppose: “Over dinner, Trump spent some time bashing former president Barack Obama about the decision to kick out Russia, repeating his public statements that Putin had only been kicked out because he outsmarted Obama, according to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private meeting.”

Also, also contentious: the French plan to lecture the Americans on climate change, per Bloomberg.

On the other hand, already Sunday, the president has gotten his constituents a SRWEG with Britain.

Per a White House statement: “President Trump and Prime Minister Johnson directed United States Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow and United Kingdom Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill to launch a ‘Special Relationship Economic Working Group’ (SREWG).”

Also expect progress on a trade deal with Japan.

On the domestic front, the president’s Saturday tweet promise during G-7 downtime that if Republicans take back control of the House there will be tax cuts in 2021, the Washington Post is canny:

“It was unclear how calculated Trump’s Twitter post on Saturday about the tax cuts might have been. It came during a string of tweets while Trump was waiting for a dinner in France with other world leaders. Other tweets weighed in on the New York subway system, North Carolina’s governor and defending his decision to call himself “the chosen one” earlier in the week.”

Clearing all this up: Larry Kudlow and Steven Mnuchin on the Sunday shows.

In other news:

The Democrats’ plans to have virtual participation in their various caucuses, including Iowa, are in jeopardy following a hack.

Top sports story: Luck retires, calls decision ‘hardest of my life’
ESPN

Top business story: Social media fuels Popeyes and Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich war
KING 5

Top entertainment story: Taylor Swift’s ‘Lover’ Lands 2019’s Biggest Sales Week in U.S. After First Day of Release
Hollywood Reporter


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