- The Washington Times
Sunday, February 26, 2017

President Trump is winning some accolades for his decision not to attend the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, just over eight weeks away. The jumbo gala attracts over 2,600 “correspondents” — including celebrities, lobbyists, PR mavens, military brass and other high-profile folk. Squealing fans and spectators wait for sightings; there is considerable coverage of the event’s red carpet walk.

It’s in stark contrast to the very first of these dinners, a banquet for 50 actual White House reporters staged at a local hotel in 1923. Mr. Trump’s terse but cheerful decline to attend this year’s party brought applause from Powerline.com analyst Steven Hayward, who deems it “Trump’s best decision yet” despite pushback from journalists.


“The news media will react badly to this,” Mr. Hayward predicts. “But with the media already in a stark-raving-mad rage about Trump, where can they go from here? It’s about time a president declined to adorn this massive exercise in media self-absorption and self-congratulation. Fake news indeed. Without Trump, C-SPAN might not even cover it. Even if they get Alec Baldwin to take his place.”

Adds John Hinderaker, a fellow analyst: “Couldn’t agree more. This is a stupid event, and Trump is a serious president. There is no reason why he should indulge his enemies.”

And about Mr. Baldwin: Don’t be surprised if something is in the works. The Hollywood Reporter says a social media campaign is underway to persuade the actor to show up at the dinner as his familiar Trump character frequently showcased on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.”

Tweets have also surfaced suggesting former President Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton should attend the dinner. Is the public getting fatigued with it all? Maybe. A survey finds audiences may be growing weary of the parody impersonations of Mr. Trump and members of his White House staff.

A Morning Consult poll found that a third of the American public say they enjoy the impersonations, 31 percent have no opinion, 19 percent would like “Saturday Night Live” to “focus on something else” and 16 percent have not enjoyed the impersonations.

FREE TRADE, BUT FAIR TRADE

In the sprawling, noisy marketplace that is global trade, President Trump is not taking his eye off the primary mission, which is to foster productive and fair deals and lower the trade deficit, which now stands at $734 billion, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures. His Cabinet is on the case in a helpful way.

“We’re not going to get into trade wars,” Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin told host Maria Bartiromo on her “Fox News Sunday Morning Futures” program.

“The president believes in free trade, but he believes in fair trade — and we’re going to renegotiate these deals so they’re good for the American public, they’re good for the American worker and they’re good for American companies. All we’re looking for are fair deals, where the deals work for us and they work for the other parties — and that’s what we’re going to do,” he explained.

The numbers suggest Mr. Trump is justified in his zeal to tweak the marketplace. The People’s Republic of China was the greatest contributor to the U.S. merchandise trade deficit during 2016: the U.S. imported $462.8 billion in goods from China while exporting only $115.7 billion in goods to China — about a $347 billion deficit.

Japan was the second-largest contributor to the deficit. We imported $132 billion worth of stuff from Japan, they took $63 billion of our stuff. The deficit: $69 billion. Germany was third; we ended up with a $65 billion deficit, followed by Mexico ($63 billion) and Ireland ($36 billion).

HERE WE GO: A MEMO FROM GSA

“The Dept. of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) intends on issuing a solicitation in electronic format on or about March 6, 2017, for the design and build of several prototype wall structures in the vicinity of the United States border with Mexico. The procurement will be conducted in two phases, the first requiring vendors to submit a concept paper of their prototype(s) by March 10, 2017, which will result in the evaluation and down select of offerors by March 20, 2017. The second phase will require the down select of phase 1 offerors to submit proposals in response to the full RFP by March 24, 2017, which will include price. Multiple awards are contemplated by mid-April for this effort. An option for additional miles may be included in each contract award.”

— From a public memo issued Friday from the General Services Administration, soliciting public bids to build President Trump’s border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

A TELLING QUESTION

A Rasmussen Reports survey used President Trump’s exact words in a poll gauging public reaction to his immigration policy, with some telling results.

The pollster found that 61 percent of Americans favor a proposal to keep out “those who do not support the U.S. Constitution or who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States would not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred for reasons of religion, race, gender or sexual orientation.” Just 19 percent oppose such a ban, while 21 percent are not sure.

The question itself is the wording Mr. Trump’s used in his initial executive order temporarily freezing refugees into this country and visas for those from seven Middle Eastern and African countries until proper vetting procedures to screen out potential terrorists are in place. The question, however, did not identify Mr. Trump as the source of the proposal.

Meanwhile, more than 1,800 refugees from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen have resettled in the U.S. since a federal court judge suspended key parts of an executive order Mr. Trump signed Jan. 27 that restricted travel from these seven nations, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of State Department data. Virtually all of these refugees were admitted after a federal court judge suspended the president’s executive order.

POLL DU JOUR

91 percent of Americans have not attended a rally or meeting that opposes the policies of President Trump; 99 percent of Republicans, 92 percent of independents and 82 percent of Democrats agree.

91 percent of Americans have not donated money to organizations that oppose Trump policies; 99 percent of Republicans, 93 percent of independents and 81 percent of Democrats agree.

77 percent overall have not shared quotes, articles or information opposing Trump policies; 90 percent of Republicans, 79 percent of independents and 62 percent of Democrats agree.

73 percent overall think Democrats in Congress should try to work with the Trump administration and Republicans to get things done; 93 percent of Republicans, 75 percent of independents and 52 percent of Democrats agree.

71 percent overall say it’s likely they will watch Mr. Trump’s address to Congress on Tuesday night; 84 percent of Republicans, 66 percent of independents and 67 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A CBS News poll of 1,280 U.S. adults conducted Feb. 17-21.

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