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Trump doesn’t kid. (Just kidding)

Summary:
[This post is silly. If you want a good post then check out my newest at Econlog.] Reporters asked Trump if he was kidding when he discouraged testing for coronavirus: “I don’t kid,” Trump said when pressed by reporters on Tuesday. “Let me make it clear.” Most people were sucked in by that. But not me. I suggested that he might be one of those Andy Kaufman type comedians, who prolonged the act far past the point where most comedians give up. And now Trump has confirmed that hypothesis: President Donald Trump on Thursday said he had “sarcastically” claimed that a decrease in coronavirus testing would lower U.S. infection rates, adding a new twist to the weeklong scramble by the White House to clarify the president’s comments on virus testing.“Sometimes I

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[This post is silly. If you want a good post then check out my newest at Econlog

Reporters asked Trump if he was kidding when he discouraged testing for coronavirus:

“I don’t kid,” Trump said when pressed by reporters on Tuesday. “Let me make it clear.”

Most people were sucked in by that. But not me. I suggested that he might be one of those Andy Kaufman type comedians, who prolonged the act far past the point where most comedians give up. And now Trump has confirmed that hypothesis:

President Donald Trump on Thursday said he had “sarcastically” claimed that a decrease in coronavirus testing would lower U.S. infection rates, adding a new twist to the weeklong scramble by the White House to clarify the president’s comments on virus testing.

“Sometimes I jokingly say, or sarcastically say, if we didn’t do tests we would look great,” Trump said in an interview and Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity. “But you know what? It’s not the right thing to do.”

Perhaps this is why all his former advisors describe him as an idiot; they don’t get that deadpan Kaufman-type humor:

On different occasions, people close to Trump in an official sense have been described in books or journalistic accounts referring to their boss as an “idiot” (former chief of staff John Kelly and former national security adviser H.R. McMaster), a “moron,” (former secretary of state Rex Tillerson), “like an 11-year-old child” (former aide Steve Bannon) with an understanding of world affairs akin to “a fifth- or sixth-grader” (former defense secretary James Mattis).

These are Very Serious People, and they don’t understand that when Trump discusses issues like bombing Syrian or a trade war with China, he’s just kidding around. They have no sense of humor. Look at their faces—they never smile.

Venezuelan-Americans also fail to understand Trump’s sense of humor:

In an interview with Axios, Trump second-guessed his own decision to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate leader and suggested he would meet with Maduro. The comment created a firestorm in the state, especially in South Florida, home to more than 400,000 Hispanics of Venezuelan originTrump quickly distanced himself from his own comments.

People need to lighten up; our president is a post-modern comedian. From day one, it’s all been an act.


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Scott Sumner
Scott B. Sumner is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, the Director of the Program on Monetary Policy at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and an economist who teaches at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. His economics blog, The Money Illusion, popularized the idea of nominal GDP targeting, which says that the Fed should target nominal GDP—i.e., real GDP growth plus the rate of inflation—to better "induce the correct level of business investment".

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