If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that Donald Trump started the new decade out with a bang.
I’m not referring to fireworks at Mar-a-Lago, but rather to the removal from the Earth of Iranian Major General and state-terror mastermind Qassem Soleimani, as well as several of his henchmen, last Friday in Baghdad.
It was a bold move and that will be debated in the weeks and months to come, but it was one that Trump had to make for three reasons: a recent increase in attacks on American interests in the region, certainty surrounding Soleimani’s whereabouts, and intelligence that Soleimani was planning even bolder attacks in the near future.
Predictably, the action was met with swift condemnation and specious claims by NeverTrump press and pundits. From starting World War III to violating international law, there was apparently little good to be found in the killing of a man who murdered thousands and wreaked havoc across the Middle East for decades.
But Iran’s response on Tuesday, in which they launched more than 12 ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases that host American troops, may well have escalated the conflict. And it may not have; after all, Iran has long attacked American troops in Iraqi territory, hence Soleimani’s demise.
Either way, it will certainly fuel the most persistent and ludicrous criticism of Trump’s move, which comes courtesy of the President’s own tweets. Specifically, in November of 2011 Trump took to Twitter to declare that “In order to get elected, @BarackObama will start a war with Iran.”
From Rolling Stone to the Washington Post to CNN to Politico, the tweet quickly became the talking point du jour for a press increasingly bent on battling Trump. But the theory that Trump sought out Soleimani to engender conflict with Iran, and bolster his chances of reelection, falls short for several reasons.
To begin with, Trump didn’t bomb the sovereign territory of Iran. Soleimani was violating a UN travel ban by visiting Iraq, where he was orchestrating mayhem in the region, including the storming of our embassy in Baghdad.
And with the election 11 months away, the targeting of Soleimani seems ill-timed to influence voters in November. While the confrontation between the U.S. and Iran could continue to develop and potentially evolve into a deeper conflict, any retaliation by Iran is just as likely to hurt Trump’s reelection chances as it is to secure them. He campaigned on avoiding war with Iran, and a significant conflict with the long-problematic theocracy would be seen by many in his base as the violation of a major campaign promise.
But there’s another, more glaring reason Trump needn’t resort to such extremes to retain the presidency: his economy is creating off-the-charts prosperity for the vast majority of Americans, and they are sure to vote with their wallets come November.
Soleimani was only the latest high-value thug picked off by the president (recall the raid on ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in October), and with his economy continuing to defy expectations Trump might consider “more money, fewer terrorists” as his 2020 campaign slogan.
Everyone, with the exception of Middle Eastern mass murderers, is winning bigly, and the future looks brighter every day.
While just months ago we were warned that a recession was imminent, recent economic projections have proven such hysterics unwarranted. An analysis by global banking and investment titan Goldman Sachs declared the economy all but immune to any near-term economic downturns. From CNBC:
“Overall, the changes underlying the Great Moderation appear intact, and we see the economy as structurally less recession-prone today,” Goldman economists Jan Hatzius and David Mericle wrote. “While new risks could emerge, none of the main sources of recent recessions — oil shocks, inflationary overheating, and financial imbalances — seem too concerning for now. As a result, the prospects for a soft landing look better than widely thought.”
Not to mention that Trump’s signature (and soon-to-be-ratified) trade deal, the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA), will further boost districts that were key to Trump’s 2016 victory and are seen as critical to his reelection. Specifically, an analysis by the International Trade Commission found that “Manufacturing would experience the largest percentage gains in output, exports, wages, and employment” as a result of the USMCA.
Wages for America’s lowest earners are finally rising, and record low unemployment for minorities has bestowed upon the current president increasing approval from these traditionally Democrat-leaning demographics. A recent Emerson poll showed Trump’s approval among blacks and Hispanics at 35 and 38 percent, respectively.
In short, if “it’s the economy, stupid,” as James Carville so famously observed, then Americans would indeed be stupid not to vote for Trump in November.
But perhaps Trump’s best asset in his quest for reelection is his opposition; in the midst of unprecedented economic success, every Democratic presidential candidate is vowing to put the brakes on America’s economic rocket ride through a variety of insane (and insanely expensive) socialist economic packages.
This economic cognitive dissonance, along with their Chicken Little objections to Soleimani’s death, cast their platform in stark opposition to Trump’s. And “more terrorists, less money” makes for a strange appeal to American voters.
Trump can read the mindset of the American electorate better than most, and he assured Americans that he targeted Soleimani not to start a war but to stop one.
Given the state of the economy and the absurd platforms of his potential opponents, there’s simply no reason to believe otherwise.