Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Who Knows?

NAFTA will be renegotiated. But, Tim Harper writes, the negotiations will not be a disaster:

Robert Lighthizer [Donald Trump's Trade Representative] released his 18-page list of priorities for coming NAFTA negotiations, and there was none of that lightning and thunder. Reaction from Ottawa and Canadian trade experts was a polite smile and a readiness to get to the table.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had already laid out Ottawa’s low-key resolve in his pre-NAFTA speech to U.S. governors in Rhode Island: “While you, my American friends, may be an elephant, Canada is no mouse. More like a moose. Strong and peaceable, but still massively outweighed. So we have to work harder to make our points.”

When formal NAFTA talks begin next month, Canadians, Americans and Mexicans will largely tune out until there is drama. And, make no mistake, any negotiations involving Trump will inevitably include drama.

At some point in the negotiations, Trump will become loud and bombastic -- because that's what he does. But it's Congress that holds the cards:

Although Trudeau has been at great pains to reject any claim that the Canadian “strategy” is to go around Trump, the trade agenda will be driven by the U.S. Congress, not the president.

It is also a Congress which can read poll numbers — one this week showed Trump with a 55-per-cent disapproval rating — with the U.S. midterms just over the next hill.

And, as the failure of Trumpcare proves, even though the Republicans control all three branches of government, Trump is Colonel Blimp -- full of hot air but not someone they respect.

Of course, someone else could throw a spanner into the works. Who knows? Stay tuned.

Image: CNN Money


Lorne said...

It will be interesting to see how things unfold, Owen. It has not yet dawned on the dim-witted Trump that there is supposed to be a relationship between the executive and legislative branches of government. His assertion yesterday, after yet another failure to repeal and replace The Affordable Care Act, is classic Trump, and classic narcissism:

"We're not going to own it. I'm not going to own it. I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it."

Clearly, he is a man out of touch on so, so many levels.

Owen Gray said...

He doesn't know how to accept responsibility, Lorne. But he does know how to assign blame -- as long as it's not to himself.

rumleyfips said...

Years ago Martin Short did a bit where he, as a fat, self important businessman, paced in front of his desk yelling " I'm not to be blamed."

Funny then; pathetic now.

Owen Gray said...

It's remarkable, rumley, how some people believe that money vaccinates them from responsibility.

Lulymay said...

In addition to what @Lorne said: Trump also stated that he was sitting in his office, just next door, with pen in hand, waiting to sign something! Something, anything, that gives me another photo-op about what is really nothing.

By nature, it seems, that most Americans are willing to let the richest of their population live off the fat of the land and labour for free, while they struggle incessantly for basic needs.

No wonder they keep reducing budgets for Education, it pays off in spades.

Owen Gray said...

Trump has professed his love for the under educated, Lulymay. And they have returned his love.

John B. said...

"Republicans Senators are working hard to get their failed ObamaCare replacement approved. I will be at my desk, pen in hand!"

- Trump, Tweet & replies (14 Jul 17)

Remind us of anything?

"We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don't need a President to tell us what direction to go. We know what direction we want to go. ... We just need a President to sign this stuff. We don't need someone to think it up, or design it. ... Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become President of the United States."

- Norquist, CPAC (11 Feb 12)

If they manage to agree on something he'll have another Rose Garden jamboree (and maybe even a longer speech, some bagpipes and a flypast this time) as if getting a gaggle of members of one's own party to smile and nod together should be considered able fulfilment of the presidential function and a victory of brilliant deal making.

Of course, that doesn't matter because Trump wouldn't understand anything about the details and policy implications even if he troubled himself to acquire some awareness of the "reforms" being proposed. His job is just to stand there and tell everybody how tremendous everything is irrespective of whatever it is they come up with. That's leadership. Let Grover's gang sweat the details and let the slugs sweat the coming bullets. They won't know even know they've been hit until it's over. That's leadership too.

Owen Gray said...

H.L. Mencken predicted that eventually the White House would be adorned by a "downright moron," John. And Grover Norquist has found the man he wanted all along.