Stephen Colbert mocks Trump for calling the trade war a ‘little squabble’

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert during Wednesday's 10/19/16 taping in New York. Photo: Scott Kowalchyk/CBS ©2016CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert during Wednesday's 10/19/16 taping in New York. Photo: Scott Kowalchyk/CBS ©2016CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Stephen Colbert responded to President Donald Trump’s attempts to downplay the trade war with China.

As a comedian, Stephen Colbert chooses his words very carefully when delivering jokes. And with so many of his jokes coming at Donald Trump’s expense, it’s not surprising that Colbert pays close attention to the words that come from the president’s mouth.

It has become clear that despite claims to the contrary, President Trump isn’t one of the great orators of our time. He has been known to slip up when reading from a teleprompter as well as to repeat many of the same words or phrases. Exaggeration is another characteristic of the president’s speech.

And while those exaggerations can be used to inflate things like his golf skills or personal wealth, it can also work in the other direction. The president often tries to create the narrative around any controversy or criticism he faces. To do this, he will downplay the significance of an investigation or behavior that others consider unethical.

According to Stephen Colbert, that seems to be the approach President Trump is using in regard to the trade war with China. The Late Show has been a frequent critic of Trump’s policies on tariffs , so when the president referred to the tensions as “a little squabble” it caught Colbert’s ear:

After briefly recapping Trump’s comments on Joe Biden and windmills (again), Stephen Colbert turns his attention to the trade dispute with China. Monday night’s Late Night with Seth Meyers used “A Closer Look” to examine how the back-and-forth with China revealed Trump as a conman. Colbert goes in a slightly different direction on The Late Show.

Colbert reads Trump’s tweets and makes the point that the president glosses over the impact of a trade war with China on the U.S. economy. It is a common theme on The Late Show: Trump uses Twitter to create a narrative that can’t be challenged in the same way it would be if he spoke in front of the media.

Colbert then shows us what Trump is like when he is in front of cameras and journalists. He doesn’t sound quite as confident as Twitter Trump, referring to the trade war as a “little squabble.”

The late night hosts uses “squabble” as in indication of Trump’s disconnect with average Americans. By downplaying the seriousness of the trade war with China, Colbert argues that Trump doesn’t comprehend the impact on American consumers and farmers.

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Calling the trade war with china a “little squabble” isn’t the worst thing the Donald Trump could have done. But it proves that the president needs to choose his words carefully so as to not appear disconnected from the reality of the situation. And if not for that reason, then perhaps just to give Stephen Colbert a little less material for the next Late Show.