So far President Donald Trump’s initiatives to Make America Great Again have included:
• Approving spending and tax cuts projected to balloon the annual federal deficit to $1 trillion by next year. (Remember when Republicans hated deficits?)
• Sparking a trade war with China that’s undermining the already weak farm economy and sending the stock market into a tailspin.
• Tweet-trashing online retailer Amazon for having the audacity to patronize the U.S. Postal Service. (News flash: they like delivering all those packages. It’s kinda their thing.)
• Promoting “family values” by demonstrating a level of integrity and fidelity that makes Bill Clinton look like Billy Graham (RIP).
Are we tired of winning yet?
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On the subject of China and trade, whatever happened to Terry Branstad?
The former Iowa governor and local boy made good parlayed support for the aforementioned Trump and a longstanding relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping into an appointment as U.S. Ambassador to China.
During his tenure as Iowa’s chief executive, Branstad worked strenuously to build trade relationships in Asia while promoting the state’s agricultural products and manufactured goods abroad.
Trump charged Branstad with building on this relationship to boost trade with China on a national scale and eat into the nearly $350 billion U.S. trade deficit with the burgeoning superpower.
The task was already challenging given U.S.-China differences on human rights, Chinese territorial claims, alleged intellectual property theft and a myriad of other issues, as well as Trump’s continual trash-talk directed at Beijing.
With his latest round of tariffs and bluster, our erratic clueless leader has made the job all but impossible.
Branstad hasn’t said much publicly about recent developments. One wonders how much influence, if any, Branstad has over the mercurial Trump, and how difficult it is for him to watch the president tear down what he spent decades building.
Perhaps he wishes he were back in Iowa serving as governor-for-life and hawking Iowa commodities rather than inhabiting the U.S. Embassy in China and trying to sell the manure Trump is peddling.
Considering, however, that Branstad helped deliver us the Trump presidency in the first place, I can’t feel too sorry for the guy.
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There are some people who know how to disagree without being disagreeable. And then there’s Iowa Congressman Steve King.
A staffer posted a meme to King's Facebook page of Parkland shooting survivor and gun-control activist Emma Gonzalez — a Cuban-American who was sporting a patch of the Cuban flag — along with the following diatribe:
"This is how you look when you claim Cuban heritage yet don't speak Spanish and ignore the fact that your ancestors fled the island when the dictatorship turned Cuba into a prison camp, after removing all weapons from its citizens; hence their right to self defense."
King, like myself, is a strong supporter of gun rights. Yet a statesman would have found a way to challenge Gonzalez on the issue without resorting to personal attacks that belittle the assailant more than the victim.
When questioned regarding the post, however, King expressed his support.
King has a history of making statements more incendiary than this with the apparent goal of grabbing headlines and throwing red meat to the coarser elements of his base rather than persuading others to thoughtfully consider his viewpoint and working to find common ground.
Unfortunately, this behavior probably isn’t enough to threaten King’s seat in the conservative 4th District, where it’s hard to imagine any Democrat prevailing in a general election.
While it’s probably too late for anyone to launch a 2018 campaign, it would be great to see a viable Republican challenge King in the future.
It would have to be someone with solid conservative credentials, name recognition, political connections and a track record of electoral and legislative success.
I know just the person and have mentioned the possibility to her before. I hope she’s reading this and is thinking about it.
Tim Ackarman, a regular columnist for the Globe Gazette, lives in Miller.