In response to some of the Trump administration’s trade policies, Harley-Davidson announced plans to move some of its production overseas. The president, apparently perceiving the move as a personal insult, proceeded to attack the motorcycle manufacturer nearly every day for a week.
In fact, in his latest Fox News interview, Donald Trump called out Harley-Davidson by name eight times, saying, among other things, “I devoted a lot of time to Harley-Davidson. I treated them good…. I had them for lunch six months ago.” The president added, “I guarantee you, everybody that ever bought a Harley-Davidson voted for Trump. I don’t know if you know that.”
What this had to do with the company’s business decisions was unclear, but Trump nevertheless kept the complaints going this morning. In fact, today’s installment might be my favorite to date.
“Now that Harley-Davidson is moving part of its operation out of the U.S., my Administration is working with other Motor Cycle companies who want to move into the U.S. Harley customers are not happy with their move - sales are down 7% in 2017. The U.S. is where the Action is!”
There are all kinds of things wrong with this, but what’s especially striking is the president’s apparent confusion about how time works.
Trump believes that Harley-Davidson customers “are not happy” that the company feels it’s necessary to move some production abroad. As proof, the president pointed to last year’s sales numbers.
But that doesn’t make any sense. We’re supposed to believe Harley-Davidson customers learned about the company’s production decision last week and then made use of a time machine, adversely affecting sales last year, when the White House was touting the company.
Maybe the customers are so upset it caused a rift in the space-time continuum?
All joking aside, Trump’s whining about Harley-Davidson is more pitiful than funny. It was the White House’s trade agenda that ended up driving the company’s executives to make their decision in the first place. The fact that the president “treated them good” and “had them for lunch” isn’t as relevant as Trump would like to believe.
But when one looks past the complaining, there is an apparent strategy here: the president likely understands that other companies may soon confront a similar decision, and some will choose to do what the nation’s largest motorcycle company has done.
It’s likely Trump wants them to think twice, confident in the knowledge that he’ll go after them the way he’s going after Harley-Davidson.