Trump: I’ve got a feeling my “globalist” friend Gary Cohn will be back
It’s never going to stop being weird that high public officials are using the term “globalist” unironically but at least they’re using it in good humor. Trump uses it in the clip below as an antonym for “nationalist,” which suits his purposes. He’s the “America First” guy and his opponents, by implication, are “foreigners first,” even though Trump’s tariffs will end up hurting many more Americans than Cohn’s trade policies would. I’m surprised that Trump doesn’t embrace the terms “free trader” and “protectionist,” though, as the idea of the strongman “protecting” his vulnerable people should instinctively appeal to him. George Will understands:
Protectionism is a scythe that slices through core conservative principles, including opposition to government industrial policy, and to government picking winners and losers, and to crony capitalism elevated to an ethic (“A few Americans first”). Big, bossy government does not get bigger or bossier than when it embraces protectionism — government dictating what goods Americans can choose, and in what quantities, and at what prices. Down the decades, Donald Trump has shown an impressive versatility of conviction, but the one constant in the jumble of quarter-baked and discordant prejudices that pass for his ideas has been hostility to free trade. It perfectly expresses his adolescent delight in executive swagger, the objectives of which are of negligible importance to him; all that is important is that the spotlight follows where his impulses propel him.
For more than a century, enlarged executive power wielded by agenda-setting presidents has been the sun at the center of progressives’ solar system of aspirations. Hence protectionism — economic life drenched by politics and directed by unconstrained presidential ukases.
“I’ll have a right to go up or down depending on the country and I’ll have a right to drop out countries or add countries,” POTUS said today, describing his tariff power. How much you pay for everyday goods is up to him. It’s for your own protection.
It’s one thing for Trump, the populist hero, to be chattering about “globalists” but this caught me by surprise:
Again, the term is used in good humor — but what the hell does Mick Mulvaney think a “globalist” is? He’s not just a conservative, he was one of the most aggressively doctrinaire conservatives in the House back when he was a congressman making demands on behalf of the Freedom Caucus. I realize the Freedom Caucus is *mostly* a fraud but chairman Mark Meadows did manager to muster the courage to sign the letter to Trump this week begging him to rethink the tariffs. If we define “globalist” as “free-trader” or “someone who doesn’t believe in garbage cronyist protectionist policies” then Meadows is a “globalist” too. So is Mulvaney. So again, what does Mulvaney think a “globalist” is? Does he think it’s just a soft epithet for “Democrat” now? God help us if that’s true.
The newsiest part here, though, is Trump hinting that Cohn will probably be back in the White House eventually. Uh, why? Why would he want to come back and, more importantly, why would Trump want him back? It’s not like the great tariff war is the first time they’ve clashed: They clashed over Charlottesville and Cohn was reportedly disappointed when he wasn’t named Fed chair. He’s allegedly complained to Trump that he wasn’t being put to any good use as an advisor, and now he just lost a momentous showdown with Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro over the direction of U.S. trade. And yet, and yet, Trump has reportedly talked with Cohn already about becoming chief of staff. Why? It’s one thing for Cohn to be willing to accept a position of great power but why would POTUS want someone as his right-hand man with whom he’s woefully ideologically mismatched? He can find any number of yes-men Republicans who’ll run his office for him while reassuring him that a debilitating global trade war is a stroke of genius. I don’t understand his attachment to Cohn.