The last time Donald Trump held a media photo op with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He was – checks notes – on February 22, and it produced no shortage of absurd soundbites.
In fact, that spectacle was more “blooper reel” than anything else. At one point, it descended into absolute farce when Trump decided to engage Bob Lighthizer on the relative merits of MOUs versus contracts.
Ultimately, Bob relented, promising Trump that from that point forward, “we’re not using the word memorandum of understanding anymore.” A bemused Liu could only laugh at the sheer blatant absurdity of the whole thing.
Fast forward six weeks (give or take) and Trump met with Liu again, ostensibly to confirm that talks on a “final” Sino-US trade deal are in fact in the home stretch. It was, predictably, a silly affair.
Here is Trump providing what is all at once a definitive and yet wholly indeterminate time line for the sealing of what he’s calling a “monumental” maybe-deal.
Just try to wrap your head around that. Here is the transcript of that word salad:
…we’re getting very close to making a deal, but that doesn’t mean a deal has been made because it’s not, but we’re certainly getting a lot closer and I would think with-though…err… within the next four weeks, or maybe less, maybe more, whatever it takes, something very monumental could be announced.
As far how “big of a deal” (figuratively and, in this case, literally) this would be were it to actually come to fruition, you already know the answer to that. It would be “a massive deal” and “if you really think about it”, it would be the biggest deal in history.
If you don’t believe that, or you’re inclined to think something of that nature simply isn’t amenable to being quantified, let the president clear it up for you:
See there? “It could be one of the… I guess it is if you think about it… the biggest deal ever made, there can’t be a deal like this no matter where you look… this is the grandaddy of them all.”
Trump also weighed in on news that Herman Cain is Fed-bound, a development that only seems sane by comparison to Trump’s other Fed nominee, Stephen Moore.
Those looking for Herman Cain-Fed jokes are encouraged to review “Herman Cain For Fed Board! Let’s Talk Pluses And Minuses (If You’re Trump)”, a fine piece of satire we published when Cain’s nomination was first tipped back in January.
Finally, the president expanded a bit on his out-of-the-blue threat to slap auto tariffs on Mexico unless the country can figure out a way to stop the flow of drugs into the US within “one year”. That broadside came earlier Thursday during a different set of remarks to reporters. Here’s what Trump had to say on Thursday evening.
As far as whether there’s going to be another Trump-Xi summit, Trump would only say that “if we have a deal, then we’ll have a summit”.
You can draw your own conclusions from the above, but the bottom line appears to be that Trump is, as usual, parroting his own nebulous talking points. At some point, there will be an agreement, but assuming Trump will understand or even care about the finer points isn’t a safe bet.
For his part, Lighthizer and Navarro indicated there are still hurdles to be cleared.