Trump rolls out tariff policies like a reality show — complete with cliffhangers

The president thrives on conflict and runs his White House as if he were the producer of a television show, placing characters in situations pumped up with tension and setting up tantalizing cliffhangers to keep viewers tuning in.

.. Although the idea of imposing tariffs on some imports was cheered at Trump’s campaign rallies, Republican lawmakers and members of his administration have argued that instituting penalties on steel and aluminum could prompt other countries to impose retaliatory tariffs that hurt American farmers, producers and manufacturers, including in states that were key to the president’s unexpected win in 2016.

.. “We have a very big meeting at 3:30,” Trump said. “I’d call it an economic meeting, something we have to do to protect our steel, our aluminum in our country.”

.. Trump wouldn’t say exactly what he had planned, but promised that it would be “very fair” and also “very flexible.” As reporters shouted out questions, the president confirmed that he would implement the tariff numbers

.. “I’ll have a right to go up or down, depending on the country, and I’ll have a right to drop out countries or add countries,” Trump said. “We just want fairness. Because we have not been treated fairly by other countries.”

.. Trump briefly mentioned the specifics of the new tariffs, but he mostly spoke longingly about the golden days of U.S. manufacturing and criticized countries like China and Japan for their “aggressive” practices.

“Our factories were left to rot, and to rust all over the place,” Trump said at one point. “Thriving communities turned into ghost towns. . . . The workers who poured their souls into building this great nation were betrayed, but that betrayal is now over.”

.. Trump asked some of the workers to speak. A worker from Kentucky said the tariffs would allow his plant to run at 100 percent capacity instead of 40 percent. Sauritch, the union leader from the Pittsburgh area, spoke emotionally about his father, Herman, losing his job in the 1980s because of an increase in imports.

“Well, your father Herman is looking down” from heaven, Trump said. “He’s very proud of you right now.”

Trump Revives ‘The Apprentice’

If the tariffs cost jobs, Joe Biden will ask every laid-off worker: Who got you fired?

A few hours before former Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn quit as the White House’s chief economic adviser, Donald Trump described his favorite management practice:

I like conflict. I like having two people with different points of view, and I certainly have that. Then I make a decision. But I like watching it, I like seeing it, and I think it’s the best way to go.”

In other words, the Trump presidency is a lot like a season of “The Apprentice.”

That TV series ran for years on NBC, with Donald Trump presiding over teams that were frequently asked to perform ridiculously impossible tasks.