Now look, I know what you're thinking on Wednesday.
You're thinking the chickens have finally come home to roost for the Trump administration when it comes to pushing the envelope on protectionist trade policies.
You're thinking that all is definitely not quiet on the Eastern front, where China struck back overnight and retaliated against the USTR's 301 measures with $50 billion in reciprocal tariffs on 106 U.S. products including soybeans, cars, planes and chemicals.
And you're thinking the market's knee-jerk reaction (free fall) was indicative of the extent to which investors were still hoping against hope that the U.S. would come to its senses before this spiraled out of control.
Well if you're thinking any (or all) of the above, the administration wants you to know that you're wrong.
See for one thing, this isn't a trade war. And the reason it's not is because this war was already fought years ago by "foolish and incompetent" people, who lost it for America:
That's more than a little confusing because after all, it was just last month when Trump
When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 2, 2018
">assured America that "trade wars are good and easy to win."
Now I guess you can reconcile "easy to win" with having "lost" if you assume that the people who were fighting on our side were "foolish or incompetent", but if trade wars are really "good" then isn't it by definition bad that we're not in one with China as Trump suggested this morning?
And further, if we lost a previous trade war with China and we're now embroiled in something that's not a "war" but is definitely a skirmish, does that mean we're fighting an insurgency? Are we insurgents?
Who knows. Certainly not Donald Trump.
Another person who doesn't know (anything) is Wilbur Ross or, more accurately, the animate remains of Wilbur Ross which were again wheeled out his crypt and put in front of a camera on Wednesday morning in light of China's retaliatory tariffs announced overnight.
A visibly irritated Joe Kernen begins by asking a visibly asleep Ross whether this has the potential to "eventually end up being a full scale - if you will - war?" Here's the clip:
There is so much to lampoon there that it's difficult to know where to start, but do note that Ross kicks it off by explaining how he like, "totally agrees" with the "tone" of Trump's "tweet." That would be the tweet shown above.
For one thing, it is almost never acceptable to agree with the "tone" of a Trump tweet precisely because if what we're talking about is Trump tweets, the "tone" is "unacceptable" no matter what he's talking about. He's tone deaf. It's part of his DNA. This is the same guy who last year held a ceremony honoring Native Americans in front of a portrait of Andrew Jackson.
But beyond that, Wilbur's contention that China's response "shouldn't really surprise anybody" because it's proportionate completely misses the point. This isn't about proportionality, it's about the fact that it's escalating. Wilbur's "reassurances" amount to telling people not to worry about a war because each side is being careful to only inflict as many casualties as they suffered.
And speaking of shooting wars, Wilbur had a rather uncomfortable analogy for you on Wednesday. Here's what he says in that clip:
Even shooting wars end with negotiation.
Right. But again, Wilbur seems to be missing the point. It's not about proportionality or whether everyone eventually decides to stop killing each other (figuratively or literally), it's about the body count that accumulates in the meantime. That's what people are worried about here.
But Wilbur isn't worried. And he's "frankly, surprised" that you're worried.
Asked by Joe whether this is going to be resolved in an expedient manner, Ross seemed to suggest the answer is "no". After all, there are "thousands" of products to talk about. But again, that's not something anyone needs to be concerned about because in the fantasy world occupied by Trump and his cabinet, all of the tit-for-tat trade escalations that unfold on the way to a distant negotiated settlement occur in a vacuum despite the fact that if you had to pick one thing that by its very definition could never be described as "occurring in a vacuum" it's global trade.
Notably, Wilbur did not bring along any props this time.