It is one of the remarkable facts of the current age that something that is so blindingly obvious nonetheless has to be relentlessly reiterated: Anything to do with Donald Trump has to, by definition, be all about Donald Trump. Doesn't matter the issue, doesn't matter the topic. Could be policy-related, could be pubic relations-related, could be scandal-related. In the immortal words of Tripper, Bill Murray's character in Meatballs, "It just doesn't matter". Why is Trump having a summit with Kim Jong-Un? Because he wants a Nobel Peace Prize for himself. Why did he begin the process of moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem (which will take nine years to complete, for some reason)? To be lionized, idolatrized, and worshiped by the Israelis and #Cult45. Why did he sell out the GOP on ObamaCare repeal, amnesty, gun control, and federal overspending? Because "Chuck and Nancy" and Dianne Feinstein praised him for it. It's the reason Donald Trump cannot be taken seriously on any issue position he claims to tout. He's not an ideologue (though he does have liberal instincts); he's a narcissist. No policy stance - not even the lone one on which he has any actual baseline history, protectionism - supersedes the faux-gilded, towering "number one".
Which brings us to this Sunday morning Tweet:
President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!
Leaving aside the question of why it should matter to Trump whether and how many Chinese jobs are lost when it's American jobs with which he's supposed to be concerned, let's square away the facts about ZTE, the "massive Chinese phone company". Happily, one of his superior rivals from 2016, Marco Rubio, did this for us in a Tweet of his own:
Problem with ZTE isn’t jobs & trade, it’s national security & espionage. Any telecomm firm in #China can be forced to act as tool of Chinese espionage without any court order or any other review process. We are crazy to allow them to operate in U.S. without tighter restrictions.
This problem was considered sufficiently serious by Trump's own regime that DOD banned the sale of ZTE phones on U.S. military bases two weeks ago:
The Pentagon is ordering retail outlets on US military bases to stop selling Huawei and ZTE phones. The Department of Defense says using the devices could be a security risk.
“Huawei and ZTE devices may pose an unacceptable risk to the department’s personnel, information and mission,” a Pentagon spokesperson said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal. “In light of this information, it was not prudent for the department’s exchanges to continue selling them.”
The concerns didn't stop there. ZTE was also violating international sanctions agreements against Iran and North Korea, prompting the Trump regime to cut them off from market access to U.S. technology:
The U.S. government said Chinese telecommunications-gear maker ZTE Corp. violated the terms of a sanctions settlement and imposed a seven-year ban on purchases of crucial American technology needed to keep it competitive.
The Commerce Department determined ZTE, which was previously fined for shipping telecommunication equipment to Iran and North Korea, subsequently paid full bonuses to employees who engaged in the illegal conduct, failed to issue letters of reprimand and lied about the practices to U.S. authorities, the department said.
So in the midst of Trump's idiotic trade war with the ChiComms (among other trading partners), here was an instance where landing on Beijing with both feet actually made national security and foreign policy sense that outweighed free trade considerations. And now, in a trademark pirouette, he suddenly changes his tune specifically about ZTE and says that "he and President Xi" are teaming up to "come to the rescue" of the "massive Chinese phone company" in order to "save Chinese jobs". Since I have a great deal of difficulty believing that The Donald is angling for the billet of Xi's Economics Minister, there must be some other motivation for this misguided back flip.
The Chinese government is extending a $500 million loan to a state-owned construction company to build an Indonesian theme park that will feature a Trump-branded golf course and hotels....
The project will include a number of Trump-branded hotels, a golf course, and a residence. While the $500 million loan will not be directly allocated to any of the Trump-branded features, Beijing’s contribution of half the project’s total operating budget ensures the success of the broader theme-park venture.
The Trump properties are considered flagship elements of the theme park, according to MNC marketing materials, and internal documents obtained by Agency France-Presse show Trump’s sons have been directly involved in its planning.
Though negotiations began prior to Trump’s election and his [bogus] pledge to cease engaging in new business dealings with foreign governments, the project raises questions about the extent to which the Trump organization is dependent on Beijing amid contentious trade negotiations with the U.S.
Breathtaking, isn't it? In one fell swoop, Trump is literally selling down the proverbial river U.S. national security and his own anti-trade stance for nothing more than his man-crush on Chairman Xi and the latter's effective half billion dollar bribe. Oh, yes, and "Chinese jobs". Because "Trump First!," "Trump Always!," "Trump Forever!"
If there is a silver lining to the story, it's that the Left is being prompted to temporarily, opportunistically see the Constitution as something other than an obstacle:
A top ethics official in former Barack Obama’s administration has accused Donald Trump of violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause after it was disclosed that the Trump Organisation is involved in a project that has received up to $500 million in support from the Chinese government.
Norm Eisen tweeted Monday about the recent report, which showed that a Trump Organisation project in Indonesia is receiving the support — a deal that appears to run contrary to the promise from Trump that his company would not pursue new foreign deals while he is president and could violate federal ethics laws.
“This is a violation of the Emoluments Clause,” Eisen wrote, referring to ethics laws that forbid members of the federal government from receiving gifts from federal governments. “A big one. See you in court, Mr. Trump.”
Now if lefties would only read the rest of the Founding Document, and take it to heart.
Still, Eisen isn't wrong about the Emoluments Clause, which reads, "No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State." [emphases added] That half-bil loan from "President" Xi to a project that will personally benefit Trump certainly breaches its spirit, and teeters and yaws on the edge of its letter as well.
I'd say that Trump is his own worst enemy, that this is one more self-inflicted scandal he doesn't need, that he's going to waste time and energy and scarce political capital raging and "counter-punching" about this like he does everything else. I and others have said these things. Repeatedly. So here I'll just say that this is the epitome of "Trump being Trump": shafting anybody and everybody for his own corrupt gain. Still think that's such a hot idea, #Cult45? Of course, they do. That's what makes them the political Stepford Wives they are. But sooner or later, they'll realize the truth when they get stuck with the electoral bill.