Donald Trump, American mystic

For all his empty bluster on taxes and trades, the president is guided by little more than instinct and the pursuit of etherealities like "Aura"

President Trump.
(Image credit: Illustrated | MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images, Zzvet/iStock)

The liberal glee that followed Harley-Davidson's cynical announcement that in order to save money it was firing hundreds of workers and moving their jobs to an overseas factory has been unmistakable. "The first layoffs from Trump's tariffs are here," sang The Washington Post, as if heralding the arrival of a new Marvel movie trailer. At The New Yorker, that bastion of Friedmanite classical liberalism, John Cassidy wrote a moving apologia on behalf of the poor put-upon corporation. Such are the tones in which we are now accustomed to hearing journalists greet the news of American immiseration.

But who can blame them? If the point they are making is that President Trump, despite his promises, is not saving American manufacturing jobs, they are right. What is happening now, not only at Harley-Davidson but at smaller companies across this country — including this auto parts factory in St. Joseph County, Michigan, where nearly one in four children and more than a tenth of persons over 65 live in poverty — is a confirmation of this. But despite what feckless pundits are happy to argue on behalf of greedy corporations, Harley's decision has almost nothing to do with Trump's so-called "trade war." Instead, it is an entirely predictable consequence of the tax bill passed by his party last year.

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Matthew Walther

Matthew Walther is a national correspondent at The Week. His work has also appeared in First Things, The Spectator of London, The Catholic Herald, National Review, and other publications. He is currently writing a biography of the Rev. Montague Summers. He is also a Robert Novak Journalism Fellow.