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America the Loser

Donald Trump’s unhinged recent attacks on the iconic motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson distill his larger assault on American democracy. Even if Democrats do manage to retake one or both houses of Congress this November, the damage that Trump and Republican leaders have done to the country’s global standing cannot be repaired.

BERKELEY – The Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell recently recalled that when US President Donald Trump held a session for Harley-Davidson executives and union representatives at the White House in February 2017, he thanked them “for building things in America.” Trump went on to predict that the iconic American motorcycle company would expand under his watch. “I know your business is now doing very well,” he observed, “and there’s a lot of spirit right now in the country that you weren’t having so much in the last number of months that you have right now.”

What a difference a year makes. Harley-Davidson recently announced that it would move some of its operations to jurisdictions not subject to the European Union’s retaliatory measures adopted in response to Trump’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. Trump then took to Twitter to say that he was, “Surprised that Harley-Davidson, of all companies, would be the first to wave the White Flag.” He then made a promise that he cannot keep: “… ultimately they will not pay tariffs selling into the EU.”

Then, in a later tweet, Trump falsely stated that, “Early this year Harley-Davidson said they would move much of their plant operations in Kansas City to Thailand,” and that “they were just using Tariffs/Trade War as an excuse.” In fact, when the company announced the closure of its plant in Kansas City, Missouri, it said that it would move those operations to York, Pennsylvania. At any rate, Trump’s point is nonsensical. If companies are acting in anticipation of his own announcement that he is launching a trade war, then his trade war is not just an excuse.

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