Just who does North Korea think they are? They think that they can accuse the US of “provocation”? Just because of some military drills? Kim the Excellent is going to find himself becoming Little Rocket Man again in no time flat. Doesn’t he know that only people like Jared Kushner have the right to define who is “provocative”? That only Donald J. Trump has the extraterritorial privilege to say who can laugh, and when, and how loudly? Trump is not going to apologize to Senator John McCain just because a staffer called McCain a dead man walking, but is he going to kowtow to Mr. Kim? Trump seems to be powerfully attracted to the notion that he too could get a Nobel Peace Prize, so I wouldn’t want to predict the future at all, except to say Kim is definitely not crazy and his PR team is not leaking.
P.S. NY Times headline: “North Korea Postpones Talks With South Korea; Decision Is Surprise.” Not really, unless the Times thought that everything was going to go smoothly between Trump and Kim. They are maneuvering to see who can define the other as unstable and themselves as stable and serious and not “provocative” or “defiant.”
The father of one of the three UCLA basketball players arrested for shoplifting in China did something dumb. He questioned whether Trump did anything to get his son out of a Chinese jail. LaVar Ball is a nitwit, and has been for quite a while. All three of the players thanked the president when they apologized on TV the other day.
Meanwhile, the president of our whole country, Donald J. Trump, responded to LaVar Ball today by saying “I should have left them in jail.” No, you shouldn’t have done that. And you shouldn’t stoop to the level you did, but you apparently can’t help yourself.
The bigger issue is that we have a president who can be played by foreign adversaries. Maybe that is not completely new. Maybe previous presidents were also taken advantage of. But this one is so transparently hungering for flattery all day every day that he makes China’s job and Russia’s job and Iran’s job and pretty much every foreign leader’s job much too easy. They ought to at least have to work a little in order to manipulate the United States government. Well, actually Russia seems to have done just that, over years if not decades, with Trump. And if and when Donald Trump and/or his family members are incarcerated, should we leave them in jail? Should we forgive and pardon them? Will they ever ask for our forgiveness?
Remember the Indemnity and Oblivion Act of 1660, aka “An Act of Free and General Pardon, Indemnity, and Oblivion”? Well, let’s dig it out. You want “beleaguered”? They had it in spades. Just watch yourself and don’t commit murder, piracy, buggery, rape, or witchcraft, or else you might not be granted oblivion after all. Our presidential hemming and hawing over pardon is so weak and low energy compared to what the English Parliament did after their Civil War.
Speaking of spades, I am waiting for Jared Kushner to come up with a more poetic defense of himself than the tedious boilerplate we got today. Let Jared take a page from Flann O’Brien’s Third Policeman. Page 1, in particular: in sum, sure I killed old Phillip Mathers by smashing his jaw with a spade, but it was Divney’s fault. He knocked Mathers down first with a bicycle pump. And Divney was “personally responsible for the whole idea in the first place. It was he who told me to bring my spade.” I never bothered to read the subject line in his emails. Or words to that effect.
The president has declared that he has “complete power to pardon,” which may be almost true in a narrow legal sense (asserting power to judge his own case is dubious). He may yet pardon his son, son-in-law, and who knows who else. He may be able to remove Robert Mueller, and that would be a major crisis if Congress did not respond forcefully. But the larger issue for a democratic republic in which consent of the governed is inalienable is this: what’s our next move as citizens? We who are citizens and voters have the final power to grant reprieves and pardons in the larger sense. Some of us, perhaps clinging to a confirmation bias, believe the president is trying to make things better, if only it weren’t for the swamp-dweller lobbyists/Democrats/leftists/snowflake slackers/deep state. Some of us, that is, are not yet ready to let go of our pleasant fantasy of victimhood, even when our political party controls the presidency, the House and Senate, and the highest court. Others of us, suffering from unpacified forgetting, are still fighting over the 2016 Democratic primaries. My hope is that most of us, who are hoping above all that the government will be focused on serving, protecting, and increasing opportunities for as many Americans as possible, will bother to let our representatives know how we feel, and then vote at every opportunity to renew and refresh our government, showing no reprieve and no pardon for those who have unrepentantly abused the public trust.