George Boardman: Why the media don’t give Trump the credit he thinks he deserves
It was a private moment between Donald and Melania after his spectacular success denuclearizing North Korea.
The president provided the intimate details at a recent political rally in Pennsylvania:
“I said (to Melania) the media is going to treat me finally so good. So good. I mean, it’s going to be so great, baby. I’m looking forward to getting up tomorrow and reading those dying papers.”
While the dialogue doesn’t rank up there with Romeo and Juliet (maybe that’s why Melania is going to Africa), it’s not surprising coming from a president who reportedly spends his leisure time reading books that praise him. This is a man who can never get enough adulation.
Trump even went so far as to tweet that his 4-hour summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un means “There is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.” So you can imagine Trump’s disappointment when the media (the cheerleaders at Fox News excepted) viewed his stunning triumph with skepticism. Another one of his thousand points of rage.
Every president has to deal with a skeptical media, and there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical in this case. While Trump practically declared peace in our time, the declaration signed in Singapore laid out a broad blueprint to establish new relations and build a lasting “peace regime” alongside a commitment to “work toward” complete denuclearization. But it didn’t spell out the steps beyond that.
Skeptics say North Korea may be repeating 2008, when it tore down a cooling tower to much acclaim, but later built an experimental light water reactor at the same location. Since the Singapore summit, North Korea has constructed two new buildings at a missile facility and appears to be actively continuing production there, according to satellite imagery.
Even Trump’s handmaidens are starting to express doubts. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo initially dismissed the satellite reports, but now concedes there is “still a ways to go before” the country fully denuclearizes. National Security Advisor John Bolton admitted the North Koreans are moving too slow to suit him, and the International Atomic Energy Agency said last week the north continues to develop its nuclear program.
Trump also refuses to decouple his election victory from Russian meddling in the 2016 election — the second can be true without tainting the first. This led to the spectacle in Helsinki, where he threw America’s intelligence agencies under the bus and managed to invoke bipartisan outrage by suggesting he believed Putin’s claim that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 election through cyber warfare.
Then the heads of America’s intelligence agencies held a press conference in Washington, D.C., where they called Russia’s interference in the 2016 election real, and described its continuing efforts to sow discord in the U.S. Trump tweeted that night the idea of Russian interference was “all a big hoax.”
It is clear that Trump views events that involve him through a narrow prism — how they make him look, and that he has no patience with media that don’t accept his view of his success. As any of Trump’s 44 predecessors can tell him, the media sees its role as skeptical observers rather than cheerleaders. His continuous Twitter rages also draw attention away from the accomplishments of his administration.
Maybe the answer is for the Trump administration to establish a government newspaper, much like Pravda served the interests of the leaders of the old Soviet Union. Trump would then be guaranteed the fawning coverage he believes he richly deserves.
The president’s man
While the congressional members of the president’s party are expected to remain loyal to the guy in the White House, they have a history of speaking up when administration policy negatively impacts their constituents — even in the Trump era.
Then there’s Rep. Doug LaMalfa.
As you have heard, the Trump administration is engaged in a trade war with China, slapping high tariffs on the goods they ship to the U.S. The Chinese, who can read election results as well as anybody, have imposed their own sanctions aimed squarely at the farm states that helped elect Trump.
These sanctions have a spillover effect in California, which is still the largest ag state (in terms of revenue) in the country. Take almond growers, most of them in LaMalfa’s district. California supplies 80 percent of the world’s almonds, and demand has been growing in China. But when Trump’s tariffs took effect in June, almond shipments to China and Hong Kong dropped 47 percent from the year-earlier period, according to Beacon Economics.
Contracts for future deliveries to China dried up, and the impact will deepen as the harvest begins, according to the Almond Board of California. “These trade disruptions and the resulting uncertainty have put the California almond industry at a competitive disadvantage,” it said in a statement.
Wine exports dropped by 15 percent and cherry exports were down 36 percent in June, according to Beacon. The situation will only get worse during the harvest season when fruit and vegetable farmers scramble to find new markets for their perishable produce. Farmers in the Midwest who rely on the export market face similar problems.
The Trump administration — perhaps noting there are elections in November — has announced a $12 billion aid package that will provide cash to producers of commodities such as corn, cotton, pork, soybeans and wheat—all grown in red states.
What about the big-money crops of farmers in blue states like California? Fruits, nuts, vegetables and wine will apparently only be eligible for federal purchases of surplus produce.
This prompted 10 California congressmen — five of them Republicans representing ag areas of the state — to write Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to complain the tariffs are “making fruits, vegetables and tree nuts in our districts significantly more expensive than their competitors” and “threatening the economic livelihood of our businesses and communities.” They added that Trump’s aid package is insufficient.
LaMalfa didn’t sign the letter, even though he claims to be “proud to represent one of the most diverse and productive agriculture areas in the world,” according to his website. There is no mention of the trade war in a long list of issues on his website. Apparently it isn’t relevant to his constituents.
Maybe he believes Trump’s contention that “China is spending a fortune on ads and public relations trying to convince and scare our politicians to fight me … Tariffs will make our country richer than it is today. Only fools would disagree.”
George Boardman lives at Lake of the Pines. His column is published Mondays by The Union. Write to him at email@example.com.
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