Donald Trump's Boeing Tweet Reveals His Big Mouth Is More Than Insulting
Of the many, many, many ways that Donald Trump's presidency is shaping up to be the complete opposite of Barack Obama's, perhaps the clearest is in their speaking styles. The 44th president is known for his cautious, deliberate style; Obama was compared to Dr. Spock by the New York Times' Maureen Dowd early in his presidency, and it stuck. Trump, on the other hand, is boisterous and speaks his mind, even when what he says is inaccurate or is alienates many Americans and allies.
Update: The original article presented Trump's claim that Boeing receives $4 billion from the government to build a new Air Force One as inaccurate because Boeing said its deal was for $170 million. However, later reporting revealed the government has budgeted $4 billion to purchase two new Air Force One planes from Boeing.
Millions of Americans chose Trump's no-filter style, but as he approaches actually becoming president, I'm beginning to see what it could mean for a president to be as carefree as Trump about what he says.
Early on Tuesday morning, like many other mornings, Trump tweeted: "Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!"
Within minutes, Boeing's stock plunged, losing more than $2 a share before the market opened. Trump spoke to reporters at Trump Tower about his tweet, saying, "We want Boeing to make a lot of money but not that much money."
Over the course of the day, further reporting revealed that the $4 billion Trump asserted as the cost for taxpayers was hugely inflated — the actual contract that Boeing has for Air Force One is $170 million. The stock eventually returned to normal trading.
CNN's Jake Tapper pointed to a possible reason for Trump's inaccurate outburst: a Chicago Tribune article posted Tuesday morning that included subtle digs from Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg on Trump's trade proposals and the potential of trade war with China.
Last year, we delivered 495 737s from our factory in Renton, Wash., to customers around the world. One in every 3 of those 737s were bound for China.
But let's give Trump the most charitable benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he, working on a brief slip of mistaken information, really did feel that Boeing was poised to make too much money off the American taxpayer and proposed paying less via Twitter, only finding out later his numbers were off.
Well that was a pretty powerful slip of the tongue and finger. It affected millions of dollars for investors, and turned out to be wrong.
During the election, Trump often got in trouble for running his mouth, but in the end, it wasn't enough to sink his presidency, perhaps due to his opponent being the preternaturally cautious Hillary Clinton. But now that he's soon to become the single person on the planet whose word has the biggest impact, the reality of Trump speaking his mind could be coming fast.
The Boeing tweet and subsequent answer to questions is a small-bore example of one company not facing acute economic pain. But what happens when Trump speaks (or tweets) this carelessly in a crisis? Back in 2009, in the midst of the financial crisis, Obama's Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner sent stocks cratering after a speech and press conference about the administration's response went badly for the new cabinet official. Let's hope that we don't have to rely on careful parsing of Trump's language to get us through a similar moment.