“Why would the US president ever want to legitimize a brutal dictator” is, in all seriousness, no longer the question on the table. Maybe W was a bonehead to say he had “looked into Putin’s eyes” and gotten a sense of his soul. Maybe Obama should have been less eager to press “reset” with Russia, and more willing to walk away from the Iran deal. And Trump is unlikely to know as much as he thinks he does about Kim Jong Un and North Korea. Do we even have an ambassador to South Korea in place? Has Trump learned anything at all about Korea that he wasn’t spoonfed by Xi Jinping when they met in Beijing last year?
Trump’s rush to announce a meeting with Kim may yet be countermanded or undermined or sabotaged by the “Deep State.” And I don’t blame the Deep Staters. They are concerned, perhaps beside themselves, for good reason. At this point, sad and almost unthinkable to say, Trump looks more desperate to meet with Kim than Kim is to meet with Trump. Is it too much to ask an American president to stop trying to prove that he is bigger and better than all other presidents?
Babyface Kim seems to have long-term strategic goals. Babyface Trump, well, “long-term” isn’t a word I would associate with him but I hope I’m wrong about that. In fairness to Babyface #2, he did inherit a problem. North Korea has been working to become a nuclear-armed state since the 1950s, and tested a nuclear weapon over ten years ago (2006). Babyface #2 is acting as if Babyface Kim is the one with more to lose. Does Babyface #1 recognize this as bluster and bluff? When you have to hope that the leader of North Korea has a better sense of humor than the American president does and a clearer sense of the real incentives in the “game” being played than Trump does, it’s not a happy day.
Newt Gingrich, bless his heart, defended Mitch McConnell vis-a-vis Trump by observing that the president is a player on the field, who ought to be playing with the Republican team, not acting as if he is the owner in a skybox. Trump will do his very best to stay in the skybox and avoid blame for anything and everything that happens on the field. Not a great approach if you actually wish to achieve political and domestic policy goals, even misguided and harsh ones. I think it’s an even worse strategy to climb down out of the “leader of the free world” foreign affairs skybox and recklessly intensifying a mudwrestling match with a truly world-class piglet. He seems likely to enjoy it more than we will. Hope I am wrong about that, and that Babyface #2 is making the best of a very tricky situation.
P.S. Maybe a North Korean missile will misfire, come down in Manchurian countryside, and China will decide to put an end to Kim’s regime?
Some people still see a true babyface wrestler when they see President Donald Trump on TV. Many others see a heel. But let’s assume for the moment that Trump is still a good guy, that is a “babyface.” How will he get along with Kim Jong-Un, a true babyface. Trump would like a script in which after some brief preliminary hype and posturing, somebody else (Xi Jinping, for example) does the hard work of negotiating with the young North Korean leader. Then Babyface Trump gets all the glory, with little to no risk. But Babyface Trump is not in a great position to leverage the Trump brand in this game the way he did in his previous lives in real estate, reality TV, and pro wrestling. The kayfabe, the cheap heat, the dusty finish–are we Americans confident that Trump’s undeniable talents as BS artist and ratings machine are going to keep us safe from a North Korean missile? In fairness, the past several presidents, from both political parties, failed to disarm North Korea. Maybe Trump will succeed where others have failed. But he is the first president I have seen actively provoke and insult the North Korean leader, as if it’s all a sporting match in which the outcome has been rigged in Trump’s favor. I am concerned that Kim Jong-un has even more of a devil-may-care “sucks to be you” attitude than Chris Christie, and that we the people are in a more precarious position because Trump does not seem to realize that his life skills may not have prepared him very well for North Korea.
The U.S.S. No-Ship No-Armada may be headed toward No. Korea, or not. But our president is most definitely no-madman, he just sits on his golden chair in his no-chamber and, whenever he feels like it, wanders from no-room to no-room, presciently knowing where the no-applause is loudest. No I have never read any science fiction, this is real news.
Trump’s apparent use of “madman theory” logic to get his way (whatever that is on any given day) on healthcare probably won’t intimidate Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer. Will Trump-as-madman succeed any better on the Korean peninsula? Are we the people ready for an American president who can actually out-crazy Kim Jong-un? We elected him. We knew that no-drama-Obama was getting old. We wanted a little excitement. How much excitement? That’s what China is wondering! Their foreign minister just put our president on the same level as Kim by urging “all parties” to stop “provoking” each other. Should we blush with embarrassment? Trump, who says he comprehends very well, listened to Xi Jinping explain thousands of years of Korean history in ten minutes (or less, believe me) and now grasps very very well how to put America first by using the craziest words and threatening to use the biggest bombs. And why worry that Kim might be even more unpredictable than our president? North Korea has an excellent system of checks and balances, many people say. Their National Security Council is far more fully staffed than ours, so I hear. Their family dynasty, as Mr. Xi no doubt explained to his U.S. counterpart, is much more experienced than ours. So they will surely do the right thing. Oh right, we still have to worry about Trump–oops.
For example, let us consider the unplanned non-obsolescence of NATO. In the same breath, the president reminded us that he had said NATO was obsolete and informed us that NATO was no longer obsolete. Don’t even get me started on trying to figure out where the United States as such stands on Russia, let alone Syria, China, North Korea… I believe I grasp that the important point to remember is this: my president is the big strong man who tells me what is true and what is fake, and when he decides that there is a new, different, and probably opposite truth it is on me to avoid whiplash.
According to the NYT Bits blog, North Korea has produced a perfectly lovely-looking and well-functioning tablet computer with a 2-megapixel camera, Angry Birds, and NO Internet. Perfect for those who have heard it all but tried and failed to read it all. And no need to worry that your web browsing will be scrutinized by the authorities.