After a day full of policy flip-flops from President Donald Trump, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that the President isn’t changing his positions — rather, the issues have shifted to fit his worldview.
At his daily press briefing Thursday, Spicer was asked about a series of issues Trump had flip-flopped recently: labeling China a currency manipulator, staffing and funding the export-import bank and passing health care legislation before moving on to tax policy.
Spicer answered by referring only to NATO.
In a joint press conference with the treaty organization’s secretary general on Wednesday, Trump said: “The secretary general and I had a productive discussion about what more NATO can do in the fight against terrorism. I complained about that a long time ago and they made a change, and now they do fight terrorism. I said it was obsolete. It’s no longer obsolete.”
From the podium Thursday, Spicer said: “I think you can look at what you’re referring to as a shift in a lot of ways, and by that I mean I saw a couple instances with respect to NATO being one of those shifts yesterday, and if you look at what’s happened, it’s those entities or individuals, in some cases, or issues evolving towards the President’s position.”
“NATO in particular, he talked about the need of countries to pay their fair share, to live up to their commitments of 2 percent of GDP,” Spicer continued. “He talked about the need for NATO to focus more on terrorism. NATO has done just that. And it is something that he pointed out in the debate, the first debate in September of last year. He talked about the fact that NATO is moving towards what he has been calling for. I think in some cases the issues evolve that it’s not just a clear and fast statement that the entity itself is moving towards his — or the issue is evolving towards the position that he articulated.”
However, NATO has changed very little about how it operates with regard to terrorism, and especially so as a result of Trump’s nearly universally vague criticisms of it.
Also, while NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg thanked Trump on Wednesday for his applying pressure on NATO countries to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense, saying “we are already seeing the effect of your strong focus on the importance of fair burden-sharing in the alliance,” Stoltenberg specified that the pledge to reach spending goals dates to 2014.
And, further, many nations are unlikely to reach that level of spending despite Trump’s complaints.
The German foreign minister, for example, said of the 2 percent goal on March 31: “I don’t know any German politician who would claim that is reachable nor desirable.”