When Donald Trump announced that he had banned the TikTok video app in the United States, only to cave a day later by allowing Microsoft and other U.S. suitors time to acquire the app, it was a humiliating swing and miss for him. Trump tried making a strongman move, only to be reminded that he has absolutely no political muscle at this point, and he had to sheepishly back down.
Now Trump is trying to find a way to save face by making the incredible assertion that a portion of the TikTok sale should go to the United States Treasury. Why? The reasons he tried to give during his press conference today were too incoherent to even try to decipher.
Here’s the thing, though. Trump isn’t even close to being in a position to pull this off. Even a strong U.S. President couldn’t pull off something like this. Trump is more vulnerable than any President since Nixon’s final days, so of course no one involved is going to cave to Trump’s demand that a ransom be paid over a private-party sale.
Donald Trump is trying to distract us from one failed strongman stunt by trying out another strongman stunt that will also fail. But because he’s allowing a month and a half for the deal to go through, he’s presumably hoping that everyone will have forgotten by then that he demanded a ransom he never got. Trump couldn’t be any weaker. At this point it’s just a matter of whether you fall for his hollow threats or not.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report