President Trump Has a Knack for Putting Himself in Jams

(Bloomberg) -- Welcome to Bloomberg Opinion Today, an afternoon roundup of our opinions on business, politics, markets, technology and more. New subscribers can sign up here

ICYMI

Stocks had another good day. So did Oliver North. President Donald Trump promised a decision on the Iran nuclear deal tomorrow.

President Trump Has a Knack for Putting Himself in Jams

The Fix Is Not In

At the 2016 Republican National Convention, which happened 400 years ago, future President Trump declared, “I alone can fix it.” But he mostly just keeps putting himself in fixes.

Take the upcoming midterm elections. The way these things go, 2018 would have been rough for the party of any president, be it Trump, Hillary Clinton or Ted Cruz. But Trump has taken a sad song for the Republicans and made it far worse. And this isn’t just a problem for the GOP but also for Trump himself: The Democrats may not impeach him, but they could make the rest of his term miserable with investigations and oversight.

The Dems could capture the House of Representatives and are within shouting distance of the Senate – and they haven’t had to do much but sit back and watch Trump stumble from one landmine to another, notes Francis Wilkinson.

One of those landmines is named Stormy Daniels, and she's an issue even for a significant number of Republican voters, Ramesh Ponnuru warns. (“No one cares about Stormy Daniels” is one of three Trump cliches that needs to die, Ponnuru says.)

Meanwhile, Trump’s cabinet is such a mess, it’s hard to sort through the wreckage, writes Jonathan Bernstein. This makes governing difficult, while feeding on itself like an ouroboros of incompetence. Speaking of which, there’s Trump’s self-created problem of Rudy Giuliani, who just keeps talking and talking and talking and talking.

Trump has delivered on some promised “fixes” – cutting taxes and regulations and cracking down on immigration, to name a few. He may be on the way to “fixing” North Korea (though that effort may die before it’s begun, warns Michael Schuman).

And Trump has a Dukes of Hazzard-like ability to get out of one fix after another.

President Trump Has a Knack for Putting Himself in Jams
jesse farrar
@BronzeHammer
Well, I'd like to see ol Donny Trump wriggle his way out of THIS jam!*Trump wriggles his way out of the jam easily*Ah! Well. Nevertheless,

Sent via Twitter Web Client.

View original tweet.

But this ability must have an expiration date. Nov. 6, 2018, is one candidate.

The Bloomberg View

Trump’s first question in international relations is apparently the same as in many other aspects of his life: What’s in it for me, right now? He tosses decades-old alliances and paradigms with little more than a tweet. This approach is … not helpful, write Bloomberg’s editors. Congress and foreign leaders must preserve the order that has benefited the U.S. and the rest of the world for decades.

Money quote: “Alliances and institutions provide stability and predictability. Sustaining them requires shared interests and a reputation for keeping your word. The president opposes these things on principle.”

Buffett’s Underplayed Understudies

When you’re a star, sharing the spotlight can be hard. But Warren Buffett needs to learn how. His decision to hold court alone (with longtime sidekick Charlie Munger) at Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s annual meeting this weekend – leaving successors in the shadows – will hurt the company in the long run, argues Tara Lachapelle.

Matt Levine wonders if Berkshire’s culture of letting its top investor just up and decide – in the bathtub, say – to invest billions will survive Buffett’s departure. Seems unlikely. But it might help if Buffett would let shareholders get comfortable with that future now. 

Weird Science

EPA chief Scott Pruitt wants the science behind environmental regulations to be more certain. That sure seems like a way to keep regulations from happening or even undo old ones. And it doesn’t even make scientific sense, writes Faye Flam.

L’Affaire du Air France

Chris Bryant thinks striking Air France workers’ demands are unreasonable and that the airline can’t afford to meet them. Leonid Bershidsky isn’t so sure about that

Inflation Watch

A private-label food company’s warning that it must hike prices to deal with rising food costs suggests consumer price inflation is bubbling, Conor Sen says. But Tim Duy argues higher input costs will hit corporate profits long before they push up consumer prices.

Chart Attack

Nestle SA’s $7 billion deal to market Starbucks Corp. coffee and tea is good for both companies, but particularly for Nestle, which has struggled to wake up North America, say Sarah Halzack and Brooke Sutherland.

President Trump Has a Knack for Putting Himself in Jams

Liam Denning digs around in Tesla Inc.’s latest SEC filing and finds reasons Elon Musk shouldn’t be so averse to answering questions.

President Trump Has a Knack for Putting Himself in Jams

Speed Round

The Kicker

Trump isn’t playing 3D chess. He’s playing Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe.

Note: Please send hate mail, suggestions and kicker ideas to Mark Gongloff at mgongloff1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the author of this story: Mark Gongloff at mgongloff1@bloomberg.net.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.