A lot of Republicans in Congress will tell you that they support President Donald Trump but disagree with him about trade. There is, however, a small group of conservatives who have found a more ingenious method for reconciling their support for free trade with their enthusiasm for the president.
They have remade him into a fellow free trader in their own minds. And having reinvented Trump in this way, they are going on to fashion him into a highly effective free trader at that.
Thus Marc Thiessen writes in the Washington Post that “contrary to what his critics allege, Trump is not a protectionist; rather, he is using tariffs as a tool to advance a radical free-trade agenda.”
Sometime Trump adviser Stephen Moore took the same line in the Washington Times, but with more enthusiasm, after Trump and the European Union called a kind of trade-war truce: “Well done, Mr. President. You’ve accomplished something in 18 months that no president has in at least 30 years.” The deal was “more evidence that the American president is the master negotiator. . . . [H]e has played the Europeans like a fiddle.”