Sunday, October 7, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He tweeted about North Korea, for whatever that's worth.

Trump spent the day at the golf course, as is typical for him, but was otherwise uncharacteristically silent. His only public comment was a tweet in which he congratulated Mike Pompeo in nonspecific terms about a "good meeting with Chairman Kim today in Pyongyang" where there was "progress made." Trump also repeated his intention to meet with the North Korean dictator again soon.

But it's not clear from any independent reporting what, if anything, Trump was talking about--and given Trump's history on North Korea, it's equally unclear whether Trump would have needed there to be anything to talk about. 

North Korea has honed a strategy over decades of making peace overtures to gain concessions, and then immediately reneging on any promises made. The fact that the George W. Bush and Obama administrations were mostly focused on keeping North Korea isolated, rather than trying to "deal" with a totalitarian regime ruled by a tiny, hereditary elite is a reflection of previous administrations' experience.

Trump, however, staked an enormous amount of political credibility on his belief that he was uniquely qualified to make a "deal"--so much so that he literally declared his June summit meeting with Kim a success the morning before it happened. Since that meeting, North Korea has

Trump, in turn, has tweeted that "there is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea." He also told a rally crowd last week that he and Kim "fell in love."

Why does this matter?

  • The nuclear security of the United States and its allies is much, much more important than any president's poll numbers.