There’s nothing that Donald Trump wants more as President than to be given credit for any success the country enjoys while dodging any blame for troubles we have in trade, our economy, diplomacy, or any other facet of, you know, actually doing his job.
That’s why he has so often attempted to “re-brand” past successes as his own and take credit for them while trashing the original efforts of others.
That was on full display today at the G20 as he got together with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to sign a trade agreement the three countries have been working on. Trump likes to think of what he calls the USMCA, or the “United States/Mexico/Canada Agreement,” as his baby — after all, a major trade agreement between the three major countries in North America would be a tremendous policy win for him.
It could even almost be called the “North American Free Trade Agreement,” it’s so grand in scope.
Actually, that’s what it was called while he was trashing it as the “single worst deal ever approved” under the Clinton administration. It could still be called that, in fact, since the changes to it are so minor as to be relatively insignificant. Kind of like the way he tried to take all of the good parts of Obamacare and turn them into Trumpcare, or how he continued the policies of the previous administration, then claimed that his actions have led to the lowest black unemployment numbers in history.
Well, never one to let Trump’s ego get in the way of telling the truth, that’s exactly what Justin Trudeau did call the “new” agreement during the signing ceremony for it, telling attendees that “the new North American Free Trade Agreement maintains stability for Canada’s entire economy,” and refusing to use the acronym that Trump has so desperately tried to repackage the essentially identical pact with.
It surely wasn’t lost on Trump, who no doubt also noticed that Trudeau refused to hold up the folder containing the signed paperwork as Trump so often does, and as he was able to cajole Mexico’s President into doing, like a boy with a book report comprised mostly of drawings.
At one point Trump repeated the false claim that the agreement signed today was the “largest trade deal ever made” — it actually pales in comparison with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, from which Trump withdrew the United States earlier this year.
Before putting a lid on the ceremony, Trudeau brought up the recent announcement by General Motors that they would be closing manufacturing plants in the United States and Canada, calling it a “heavy blow.” Trump, of course, did not bring up GM, after it was widely reported that the outsourcing they plan to do after collecting their generous tax break from the GOP at the end of last year was actually incentivized by that same ill-advised tax package, making it all but certain that GM would be closing those plants and laying off nearly 15,000 workers.
And Trudeau left no stone unturned as he addressed Trump by his first name to bring up the elephant in the room: The tariffs that Trump is still inexplicably convinced are good for the American economy:
Donald … we need to keep working to remove the tariffs on steel and aluminum between our countries.”
Trump could take a lesson from his younger counterpart. Let’s hope he learns it before coming back to Congress begging them to actually approve the trade deal he just made such a big show about signing.
Featured image via screen capture