Media reports coming out of the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, are pretty striking in terms of the nearly constant shift of focus by President Donald Trump. Allied leaders and journalists alike seem to be having a hard time following along with Trump’s constant stream of contradictory thoughts and statements.
Unlike at past G7 meetings, the leaders of member countries at this weekend’s summit appear much more willing to call Trump out on his misstatements and contradictory positions. Frankly, for the U.S., the president is an embarrassment on the global stage, again.
Of course, we should expect nothing less from the mentally deteriorating Donald Trump, who always had difficulties understanding global politics and basic economics to begin with.
A couple of head-scratching things emerged from a breakfast with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday. First, Trump was asked if he had “second thoughts” about his ongoing trade war with China. “I have second thoughts about everything,” Trump responded.
Here’s the exchange:
Nearly everyone took that answer to mean perhaps Trump had expressed regret for pushing the world to the brink of a global recession by going to war economically with China. Economists are practically unanimous in denouncing this strategy, saying it will all but guarantee a global economic downturn. Trump admitting he may have been wrong would be an unusual development, to say the least.
But nope, Donald Trump is never wrong. White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham later clarified that Trump had regretted nothing, and his “second thoughts” comment referred to the fact that he wishes he’d imposed higher tariffs on China, according to The Washington Post.
Trump on Friday announced he’d raise tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods from 25% to 30%, in retaliation for China imposing new tariffs on U.S. goods.
Next, Trump backtracked on one of his most outrageous statements in recent days, in which he “hereby ordered” U.S. companies to start pulling out of China. Unsurprisingly, that comment generated massive backlash, particularly from “freedom-loving” conservatives.
For example, Rick Wilson wrote in the New York Daily News: “Really, comrade? Is that part of the Five-Year Plan? How’s the beet harvest looking this year? Will the Stakhanovite efforts of the peoples’ vanguard at Comrade Newton Leroy Gingrich Heavy Machinery Plant 14 in the Wisconsin Oblast meet the tractor quota?”
On Sunday, the Post reported that Trump said talks were going well with China and he wouldn’t be seeking to force U.S. companies out of China, although he wouldn’t be able to do that anyway. Small detail.
Boris Johnson, of all people, also criticized Trump’s trade strategy, saying, “Our view on the trade war, we’re in favor of trade peace on the whole.” He reiterated, “We don’t like tariffs on the whole.” Trump responded: “How about the last three years?” To which I respond: LOL.
After that, White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who last weekend very unintelligibly tried to argue that the U.S. economy is definitely not on the verge of a recession, flat-out lied on CNN’s State of the Union about Johnson’s comments.
“Well, look, I’m not sure I agree with how you portrayed that, to be honest,” Kudlow told CNN host Brianna Keilar. “I was in that meeting.”
“What do you mean?” Keilar interrupted. “That was a quote.”
Kudlow claimed the quote was taken out of context.
Referring to Trump’s apparent about-face on relations with China, the Post wrote this:
The confusing change reflects Trump’s wildly shifting approach to China, which has had a major effect on the U.S. economy and could affect his reelection chances next year. But it was also part of a stark counternarrative Trump offered during the summit, as he presented a different version of private talks than virtually every one else attending. And those differences spilled into public view multiple times at the summit.
French officials disputed a statement Trump made about an agreement on how to approach Iran. France said leaders had reached an agreement. Trump said he hadn’t discussed the issue, the Post said. I think we’ll go with taking France’s word over Donald Trump’s, who has publicly lied over 10,000 times since taking office.
On North Korea, Trump told reporters that the North Koreans hadn’t violated U.N. security resolutions by continuously launching short-range missiles, when in fact they had, as almost everyone in the world knows. Japanese leader Shinzo Abe had to correct Trump.
Trump also took the opportunity to once again praise North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, his beloved pen pal.
“We’re in the world of missiles, folks, whether you like it or not,” Trump said.
Trump also claimed that several foreign leaders had told him they wanted Russia to be readmitted into the G7, when that clearly isn’t the case, according to the Post. Trump wouldn’t tell reporters exactly whom he had spoken with, or if those voices actually were real or imagined.
Commenting on Trump’s behavior at the summit, former treasury secretary Lawrence Summers told the newspaper, “We are at a new stage now with very erratic presidential behavior and frequent denials of obvious reality. I know of no U.S. historical precedent.”
Neither do we.