President Vows To Help “Make North Korea Great”
Yes, he really said that! South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in visited Trump in Washington. But during a brief televised joint question-and-answer session in the Oval Office, Trump often seemed to be speaking directly at North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, borrowing a page from people who try to reach out to Trump by appearing as guests on Fox News.
Trump starts by saying he will “guarantee” he will not seek to topple Kim as North Korea’s leader, then goes on: “He will be safe. He will be happy. His country will be rich. His country will be hard working and very prosperous. They’re very great people.” Who else could this be directed to?
The “Make North Korea Great” part comes at the very end: it’s a little hard to follow, because you have to wait for a lot of translation back-and-forth between English and Korean. Here’s the clip (click on the photo to watch):
Like Everything Else, Trump Has To Make This Into A Cliffhanger
And as much as the mainstream media says it hates the “Presidency-as-reality-show”, it continues to eat that stuff up.
Yes, at an Oval Office meeting with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, Trump did say “there’s a very substantial chance it won’t work out.” But in almost the same breath he said: “there is a good chance that we’ll have the meeting”. How do you explain that? We think it’s a “nod and a prod”. A nod to his National Security Adviser John Bolton, who has been trying to undermine negotiations and wants Trump to take a more bellicose posture. And a prod to North Korea to move forward with some haste, otherwise the window of opportunity might close.
In addition, Trump expresses some flexibility on denuclearization demands, saying while he “prefers” an all-in-one approach (recently spoken of by Bolton as the “Libya model”), he also says: “Does it have to be? I don’t think I want to totally commit myself.”
South Korea’s President Continues To Show Himself Extremely Skilled At Interacting With Trump
We’ve mentioned before that South Korea’s President Moon, while less flashy than, for instance, China’s President Xi (whom Trump today perceptively called “a world-class poker player”) has been extraordinarily effective at keeping Trump engaged. How? By letting Trump take credit for, well, everything. And he did it again during their joint photo op/Q&A. In one sentence, Moon gave Trump credit for everything good that’s happened up until now as well as everything that will happen in the future. Why would he do that? Simple. He cares more about outcomes than credit, and knows Trump’s the opposite.
Some Other Signs Things Might Be Back On Track
- South Korea’s top Security official said there’s a 99.9% chance the Trump/Kim summit will go on as scheduled on June 12th in Singapore. And maybe that’s a bit of “wishful thinking”–or even presumptuous. But keep in mind: he’s the one communicating most regularly with North Korea, and so might have a pretty good read on where North Korean officials’ heads are at.
- And North Korea this morning finally did issue visas allowing South Korean Journalists to witness the destruction of North Korea’s main nuclear bomb test site, scheduled for later this week. Part of the reason it’s being shut down is that it’s already partially collapsed.
But Then Again…
Trump does have a history of listening most intently to whomever was in his ear most recently. Now that South Korean President Moon is gone, Trump’s new National Security Adviser John Bolton will once again be lurking.
Finally, A Truly Classic “Trump” Moment That We Had To Share With You…
This’ll probably get lost in the shuffle, which is sad, because it’s a real doozy. A South Korean reporter asks Trump what he thinks of President Moon. Trump answers by talking about himself. And what great a deal-maker he is. Then he insists everyone wait while his lengthy answer is translated into Korean in its entirety. Then he stops everything again to praise himself for the answer he just gave. Also, he’s uncharacteristically loose, and clearly enjoying every second of it. Here’s that clip: