I’ll confess I’m still having a little bit of trouble coming to terms with this new reality where turning on CNBC and seeing Larry Kudlow means I have to crank the sound up and pay attention.
Previously, if you turned on CNBC and saw Larry Kudlow, it meant you needed to immediately change the channel lest you should accidentally unmute him and be subjected to some largely indecipherable retro supply-side grumblings delivered via a voice box that’s still struggling to get out from under a Merit Ultra Light habit.
Even if you like Larry you don’t take him seriously. I mean come on. Past a certain point, CNBC didn’t even take him seriously. The only thing sillier than the idea of Larry taking a prominent position in a modern president’s administration is the idea that if circumstances somehow conspired to make that a reality, Larry would be the sanest person at the White House.
And yet that’s our reality.
Here we are, adrift in an alternate universe where “top economic adviser to the President” is a title Larry Kudlow holds and “President” is a title Donald Trump is holding onto for dear life with both of his tiny little hands.
All of last week, as markets tried desperately to read whatever tea leaves might be hiding in Trump’s tweets on trade, I tried to drive home the point that Larry Kudlow is just a placeholder. Recall this:
Sorry, Larry, but Trump didn’t get elected by proselytizing about the relative merits of free trade and globalization.
In fact, he got elected on the exact opposite of that message, so hopefully Larry (and CNBC) will forgive us for suggesting that maybe – just maybe – Trump stuck Kudlow in the NEC position as a placeholder, never intending to listen to him on anything.
The point: it doesn’t make one shred of difference whether Larry is a free-trade advocate and it makes even less of a difference how he feels about Trump’s tariffs. That should have been readily apparent last week when, despite Larry being ostensibly in the loop, Trump cranked up the trade tensions by instructing the USTR to consider proposing an additional $100 billion in tariffs on China purely because Beijing had the audacity to suggest they would respond to the previous $50 billion in levies Trump slapped them with.
Despite irrefutable evidence that Larry’s opinion means absolutely nothing to Trump, markets were inclined to humor him again on Monday when he showed up on CNBC to insist that the problem here isn’t Trump. Just watch as Larry wildly gesticulates in front of the fucking White House in a fruitless effort to convince a visibly skeptical Carl Quintanilla that the President doesn’t have markets on edge:
We’ll say one thing for Larry, he is proving to be remarkably adept when it comes to abandoning his principles and settling into his new job as a condescending sycophant. Sarah Huckabee Sanders would be proud.
Let’s all check back with Larry the next time the S&P plunges 3% after a Trump tweet.
That of course assumes Larry sticks around that long and on that score, we have to say that with performances like the one shown above, he might have a chance to keep his job for at least another two months.