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Horowitz: Trump Has Met the Enemy - It’s Canada

Tuesday, June 12, 2018


Rob Horowitz says Canada is the enemy.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan famous description of the lowering of standards and the debasement of the culture,” defining deviancy down’ if not presciently anticipating the presidency of Donald Trump, sure captures it. With each day, unfortunately, we are becoming more accustomed, or at least resigned to behavior in our president so immature, dishonest and disgraceful, that if our teenage children behaved in the same manner, we would ground them.

But this past weekend at the G7 Summit in Canada and its aftermath, President Trump’s statements and actions were so reckless and so beneath the office he holds, that they stand out even when judged by Trumpian standards.

After hours of painstaking negotiations, President Trump agreed to join the other members of the G7, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Japan—allies all--in a communique designed to paper over the disagreements on trade, Iran and climate change, and show  that this alliance  still shared the same values.

Soon after Prime Minister of Canada Trudeau announced the agreement and then in fairly diplomatic language reiterated he opposed new American tariffs and that he would respond in kind because he must stand up for Canada. Trump’s completely out of proportion reaction was to go back on his word, saying that he would withdraw his support for the communique and instructing his representatives not to sign it. He did this by tweet from Air Force One after an early departure from the Summit.

That alone was bad enough. But Trump compounded the damage, by calling Trudeau “dishonest and very weak,” among other insults. And his aides, Peter Navarro and Larry Kudlow made matters even worse by stepping up attacks on the Canadian Prime Minister.  With fewer so-called grown ups in the room around the President-it appears that efforts to clean-up after his foreign policy mistakes will be made less and less and sycophantic backing up for the boss and as a result compounding the damage will become more the norm. 

Even if Trump was right about Trudeau’s statement, it is still no reason to break your word on a communique agreed to by seven nations. His tweets and his aides’ comments on the subject were to paraphrase Shakespeare, full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing.

Underneath all the noise, Trump’s complaint that the United States is a victim of unfair trading policies by the allies is weak at best. The United States puts tariffs on imports at about the same rate as the rest of the G7 nations—and at this point it is a low rate, propelling trade and growth. Canada--the inexplicable target of Trump’s ire—actually more sparingly puts tariffs on all imported goods than the United States. The G7 and the major international economic institutions of the post-war world were created mainly by the United States and have by and large well served our interests.

But even if you agree with Trump’s points on trade, his behavior was still inexcusable and counter-productive. He has once again demonstrated he is not trustworthy and damaged the perceptions of our nation among other world leaders and their publics. As long-time Republican campaign operative  and consistent Trump critic, Steve Schmidt said, “Trump beclowned himself.”

Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island. 


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