First immigration, then guns, now tariffs: Policy chaos defines Trump's White House

Christi Parsons, Tribune Washington Bureau on

Published in Political News

"I like conflict. I like having two people with different points of view, and I certainly have that," he said. "And then I make a decision. But I like watching it, I like seeing it, and I think it's the best way to go."

Even some critics say Trump could be knocking items off his to-do list if he would just focus and show discipline. The tariff plan is a prime example, said Senate Democratic leader Charles E. Schumer of New York.

"The president's proposal does more harm to Europe and other allies like Canada than it does to China," Schumer said. "That's what's wrong with it. It's so typical of this White House. Even when they have a good idea, they mess it up because they don't think it through.

"The haphazard way these tariffs were put together has caused policy to miss the mark," said Schumer.

Lichtman, the history professor, suggested that the apparent haphazardness is actually part of Trump's plan.

"The one thing Trump is good at is distraction and deflection," he said. "He'll talk about difficult things, but then he'll move on to something else and the conversation will turn to that.

"Whatever happened to his pledge that 'I'm going to challenge the NRA'?" Lichtman said, referring to Trump's recent comments about the National Rifle Association.

"He moved on," blaming school shootings on mental health issues and violent video games, he said. "That's why absolutely nothing is going to come from this school shooting."

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Bolling disagreed. A former Fox News host, he became friends with Trump after Bolling's adult son died of an opioid overdose last year. The president called him to offer condolences, and continues to call on a regular basis to check in and talk things over.

"He's been amazingly empathetic and compassionate," Bolling said. "I know he cares about the issue. And I know he will try his best to get something done."

(Los Angeles Times staff writer Cathleen Decker contributed to this report.)

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