Donald Trump has agreed to not do that thing he was going to do so … victory! On Friday evening, Trump declared that he had “signed an agreement with Mexico” under which Mexico will “take strong measures” to reduce immigrants crossing the border into the United States. And because of this agreement, Trump will “indefinitely suspend” the tariffs that were set to take effect on Monday.
Mexico has supposedly agreed to disperse more of it’s own national guard along immigration routes, and along the border with Guatemala in order to turn back refugees before the reach the United States. It has also agreed that some immigrants waiting on asylum claims will remain on the Mexico side of the border, even though that means they won’t have access to attorneys or courts where their asylum claims are being heard. Mexico did not agree to changes in asylum rules that would have limited which immigrants were allowed to apply.
Whether any of this will make any appreciable difference isn’t clear. But it doesn’t have to be. When Trump issued his tariff threat on May 30, he didn’t provide any goals, any numbers, any rules, or even guidelines. He made it clear that he was the sole judge of whether Mexico was doing enough to evade his wrath, and that he could change his mind at any time, for any reason.
But since Trump issued his stunt announcement, economists have warned of dire effects on both nations, business groups have filed lawsuits, and Republican Senators have threatened to join Democrats in overturning the National Emergency Act powers that allowed Trump to declare these tariffs.
Just as with his earlier threat to “close the southern border,” Trump simply manufactured a crisis using a statement absolutely swimming in the kind of racist, xenophobic language that appeals to his base. He then issued a threat to show his skills as a hard-driving deal maker, while leaving what constitutes success completely undefined. And, on the brink of a disaster of his own making, he declared victory. So everything goes back to where it was while Trump declares a “huge success.”
The whole cycle: Manufactured crisis, chest-pounding threat, no definition of a solution, repeated statements of toughness, and a last minute declaration of “victory” despite nothing really changing is the absolute definition of Trump.
It has proven to be an absolutely perfect way to distract the media, keep his base inflamed, and it doesn’t require a damn thing except that Trump make some unreasonable threat then stay his hand at the last minute.
The Stages of the Trump Cycle
- Look, [Insert Country Here], if you don’t do this unreasonable, undefined thing, I’m going to kill this puppy!
- I mean it. And if I don’t get that thing I can’t even define, I’ll just start killing more puppies.
- I really mean it. Ten puppies a day.
- Make that twenty.
- I have forced [Insert Country Here] to buckle to my demands through my skills as the world’s best negotiator to achieve a hard bargain that no one else could get.
- Let us all dance to celebrate how I saved thousands of puppies!
Rinse. Lather. Repeat.