Mike Huckabee, April 28, 2017

I keep wondering if President Trump’s critics will ever learn to hold their fire over his comments until they find out what’s really going on. Case in point: this week, Trump talked about pulling out of NAFTA, the free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. That set off an immediate firestorm among free trade conservatives, howling that he was going to spark a trade war and a recession, and cause prices of milk, lumber and other products to skyrocket. He was called a protectionist, an economic ignoramus, etc. etc. Then, just hours later, as the Tweet storm raged on, Trump announced that the leaders of Canada and Mexico had called him and offered to renegotiate NAFTA to get better terms for all sides. So now, he’s “going to give renegotiation a good, strong shot” — although he still might pull out if the terms aren’t to his liking.

His critics’ mistake was in assuming that when Trump said, “I’m thinking of pulling out of NAFTA,” that meant he was actually thinking of pulling out of NAFTA. I believe a more accurate translation would be “I don’t like this deal, so I’m throwing out the most extreme nuclear option as an opening gambit to spook our trading partners into coming to the table to hammer out something I like better.” And that appears to be working, with the continuing possibility of pulling out being held as leverage to secure the best terms.

Americans would suffer fewer earaches if Trump’s critics could just figure out that this is his way of making deals and hold off on the screaming for a few hours. Say, maybe he could write a book explaining how he makes deals! Oh wait, he already did…30 years ago.