DONALD TRUMP RESOLVES A CRISIS
Before the difficulties for Mexico described in Why The Mexicans Are Confused (The Rishel Report: 6/07/19) fades into the Trumpian twilight it might be well to think a bit more about what actually happened. What officially happened is that the Obrador Administration down in Mexico City, faced with tariffs that could have devastated Mexico’s economy, caved in. They “reluctantly” agreed to hold more migrants on their side of the border while those people are being processed. They also agreed to use their national guard to cut off persons escaping from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras on their southern border.
The President loudly celebrated his victory. He had been able to force the Mexicans to do something that no previous president had been able to do. His joy, as it turned out, was short lived. Very quickly it became clear that the Mexicans had only agreed to things they had already agreed to do months before. Skeptics could argue that there was, in fact, no way to make our allies south of the border actually do what they had already agreed to do those months before. Donald Trump’s only lever would be to resurrect his tariffs.
It is true that Trump’s tariffs could have devastated Mexico’s economy. They would also have wreaked havoc with the economy here at home. From what has appeared in the media it seems clear that Trump’s advisors and the Republicans in Congress were horrified by the tariff idea. Not only would they severely damage the economy before the 2020 elections but they made the signing of the United States, Mexico, Canada Trade Agreement dead in the water. How could Mexican President Andres Obrador talk Mexico’s Congress into voting for an agreement guaranteeing no tariffs when President Trump was vindictively imposing tariffs on his own?
What we are seeing here is another example of a cycle that has been replayed over and over since Donald Trump took office. The president appears to have little interest in or understanding of routine government. He doesn’t have the knowledge or the attention span to deal with new legislation. He does become engaged during a crisis. So, he creates them. Beginning with the Moslem “infestation”, the rapist hordes from Mexico, the closing of the government to gain funds for his Wall, the increases needed in the military budget, problems with China. The pattern is always the same. Donald Trump comes to the rescue about a problem he and his administration created.
The crisis doesn’t have to be “real”. In fact, the tactic works because each crisis is not an actual crisis. The truth is that the Trump administration carefully avoids real problems (think climate change). The non-crises they choose to deal with are always designed to arouse the 25 % or so of the population that Donald Trump considers his “base”. Maintaining their loyalty is the motivation for every move the White House makes.
Resolving these “crises” does not involve the elaborate preparation done by previous administrations. The President’s attention span does not allow him to really prepare. Instead he believes that his personality will carry him through. Remember the great crisis in North Korea. The regime there was carrying on an elaborate nuclear weapons program while its people (many in concentration camps) were threatened with starvation. The President proudly announced that he would meet with North Korea’s leader and save the world from its nuclear threat.
At the first summit in Singapore, the President felt that he had found a kindred spirit in North Korea’s president, Kim Jung Un. The President flattered the much younger man by treating him as a comrade-in-arms. As the President expressed it, they “fell in love”. After the summit Donald Trump loudly announced that North Korean nuclear threat was over. The world was now a safer place. Kim Jung Un (who had been reducing the size of his family by murdering them), appears to be continuing the nuclear program that had been ongoing. A second summit in Hanoi ended in failure, but the “crisis” has disappeared.
The “crisis” along our border with Mexico has for the president been the gift that keeps on giving. That crisis occurred partly because the president, hoping to appeal to his base, loudly proclaimed that he might close the border. Migrants, many trying to escape from deadly uncontrolled gangs in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, fearing the worst, increased their efforts to seek asylum. Efforts to frighten away migrants by separating children from their families had to be publicly abandoned. The political fallout was too severe.
So, having helped to create a crisis, the White House, led by the president, resolved that crisis yet again. On his own he announced an escalating tariff on all Mexican exports to the United States. Faced with the disastrous tariff, the Mexicans, by signing an almost meaningless agreement, have allowed the Trump administration to escape its self-created tariff trap. Donald Trump is loudly declaring victory once more, another victory in a crisis that his actions helped create.
That crisis clearly was not going to be solved by the President’s Great Mexican Wall. After two and one half years and billions spent on the border, the Administration has managed to build a reported 1.7 miles of new wall.