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Trump becomes king of the cave

Dana Milbank on

WASHINGTON -- Back in the 1980s, Donald Trump published his seminal business treatise, "The Art of the Deal." Should he write a sequel about his presidency, he might accurately title it "The Art of the Cave."

In recent weeks, President Trump's record has been a cornucopia of climbdowns. Not since the Paleolithic Period, perhaps, has a man had quite so much day-to-day caving experience.

The White House had demanded $150 billion in cuts as part of current budget talks. But on Monday evening, Trump agreed to a deal that raised spending by $320 billion. The Washington Post's Damian Paletta and Erica Werner labeled it a "significant retreat" for Trump, who got some accounting changes "that probably wouldn't constrain any future spending."

A few weeks ago, Trump declared that he was "moving forward" with efforts to put a citizenship question on the 2020 Census questionnaire despite a contrary Supreme Court ruling. But he then announced with fanfare that he would not, in fact, move forward. Was he backing down? "No, no," he said. "Not only didn't I back down, I backed up."

Thanks for that clarification, sir.

In May, Trump announced that he would "shortly" impose 25% tariffs on $325 billion of imported Chinese goods. But in late June, Trump announced he would not actually be imposing the tariffs "at least for the time being," and he set no deadline.

 

Last month, Trump publicly vowed that "millions" would be deported following raids on immigrants living in the United States illegally. He postponed and rescheduled the raids, but the appointed day came and went with scant evidence that the threatened sweep had occurred.

You might think that after caving so much, Trump would be tired of caving. But you would be wrong.

After pronouncing that there is "no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea" and assuring that Kim Jong Un is "denuking the whole place," the Trump administration is reportedly prepared to let North Korea keep nuclear weapons.

After being "cocked and loaded" for an attack on Iran following the downing of a U.S. drone, the president called off his own attack after he "thought about it for a second."

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