In the rush of Trumped-up events, history — of the last month, week, hour — repeatedly gets plowed (or tweeted) under. Who can remember what happened so long ago? Perhaps it’s not surprising then that, in the wave of abuse from the president and his men (including economic adviser Larry Kudlow and trade hardliner Peter Navarro) against Canada and its prime minister, Justin Trudeau, one of the president’s earliest insults has already been washed down the memory hole into oblivion.
In a phone conversation with Trudeau on May 25th (not even a month ago, but it might as well have been the Neolithic Age), CNN reported Trump quipping: “Didn’t you guys burn down the White House?” The reference was to an event a while back — August 1814, to be exact, more than half a century before Canada existed, but who’s counting. In the war of 1812, the British did indeed burn down the White House; that was, by the way, the war in which U.S. troops invaded what would someday become Canada, a detail of little significance (and, in any case, probably the fault of the Democrats).
As so often happens these days, the president had brought up a perfectly appropriate subject, arson, even if he applied it to the wrong cast of characters. Before that May phone conversation, he had promised to exempt Canada from the steel and aluminum tariffs he was then thinking about imposing elsewhere. However, six days later, on May 31st, he suddenly imposed those very tariffs on Canada, as well as Mexico and the European Union. As is often the case with our president — you know, that guy with the yellowish-orange comb-over — the subject of burning something down, whether in Washington or elsewhere, isn’t far from his mind. The truth is, as TomDispatch regular Nomi Prins, author of the new book Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World, makes clear in her usual striking fashion, our president is, above all, an arsonist first class.
Canada? Why did I even bring it up? Those May 31st tariffs are so 1814 now that he’s lit a trade war with China, the world’s second largest economy. If you read Prins’s piece, I guarantee you one thing: you’ll hear the fire alarms sounding. But where’s the fire department?