But First, Three Really Bad Jokes September 17, 2023 JOKE #1 – George Santos: it’s so fun to read his resume. JOKE #2 – Moralizer and, at 36, soon-to-be grandmother Lauren Boebert: at the theater. (Bush ethics czar wonders: what was in that vape?) JOKE #3 – Medal-of-Freedom recipient (a joke all by itself), subpoena defier, and former wrestling coach Jim Jordan: never said the election was stolen and never knew about the sexual abuse. There have been so many competent, honorable, admirable Republicans at every level of government over the course of our history, not least among them Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney. It was once the “Grand Old Party.” Now, led by a megalomaniacal pathological liar out for “vengeance” and “retribution” — an authoritarian who admires Putin and exchanges love letters with Kim — it has entirely lost its way and its soul. “No joke,” as our President would say. Speaking of whom . . . Last week’s speech on Bidenomics. Critics will point to his delivery, which can be less than perfect. But people who care about their well-being will focus on the substance: what he’s delivered. And on the stark contrast with MAGA-nomics. Does the nation need a demagogue with the rhetorical skills to incite a violent assault on the Capitol? Or a lifelong policy wonk who’s assembled an Administration that’s fighting for everybody, not just the rich and powerful? BONUS Wall Street Journal blows a major hole in Trump’s boasts about his trade policies. Maybe Mr. Trump should start giving out campaign hats that say “Make Vietnam Great Again.” . . . If Mr. Trump’s goal was to nudge businesses to friendlier locales, a better U.S. policy was to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that excluded China. But Mr. Trump rejected that deal. The Pacific pact would have boosted trade among a dozen countries, including Vietnam, while offering companies an incentive to set up shop in those places. This approach would have avoided the collateral damage from Mr. Trump’s blunderbuss tariffs, . . . Mr. Trump’s answer, as usual, is to quintuple down in a second term. A universal 10% tariff would “raise taxes on American consumers by more than $300 billion a year—a tax increase rivaling the ones proposed by President Biden,” the Tax Foundation says. Including expected retaliation, it would “shrink the U.S. economy by 1.1 percent and threaten more than 825,000 U.S. jobs.” Slapping 10% tariffs on everything made by Vietnam, South Korea and other U.S. partners would have the effect of abandoning them to China’s economic sphere, which is the opposite of America’s geostrategic interests. Have a great week!