During a campaign rally Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reads a statement made by Michelle Fields, on March 29, 2016 in Janesville, Wis.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty

Trump not above using his notoriety to reward allies, punish critics

The New York Times had an interesting article this week about the health care industry and its anxieties surrounding the changes Donald Trump and congressional Republicans intend to impose on the system. The piece, however, was a little short on quotes, and as it turns out, there was a specific reason for that.

“Some companies, anxious about changes in health policy, said they were afraid to speak out because they feared that Mr. Trump would attack them on Twitter, as he has badgered Boeing, Ford, General Motors, Lockheed Martin and Toyota,” the Times explained.

President Obama spoke at MacDill Air Force Base last month, where he celebrated one of the great American freedoms: we can “criticize a president without retribution.” Evidently, that freedom is a little less secure in the Trump era.

Indeed, the New York Times’ report followed a related piece on tech companies on the West coast adjusting their schedules, making sure “someone is up at 3 a.m. local time to catch the [president-elect’s] tweets out of fear that a Trump tweet could crash their stock and put their company into a frenzy.”

As it turns out, the president-elect isn’t just intimidating potential critics; as he demonstrated on Twitter this morning, he also wants to use his notoriety to reward allies.
“Thank you to Linda Bean of L.L.Bean for your great support and courage. People will support you even more now. Buy L.L.Bean.”
Apparently, Linda Bean, the granddaughter of L.L. Bean’s founder and a member of the company’s board of directors, made an illegally large campaign contribution to a pro-Trump political action committee. This prompted some on the left to announce they’ll no longer buy from the national retailer.

For its part, L.L. Bean’s public-relations department wants no role in an ugly political fight, and the company’s executive chairman, Shawn Gorman, said in a statement, “L.L.Bean does not endorse political candidates, take positions on political matters, or make political contributions.”

And yet, here we are, watching Trump take the unnecessary step of pushing the company even deeper into a partisan dispute, encouraging his followers to support a business because of a donor’s contribution.

No one really benefits from any of this. By all appearances, Trump doesn’t care.