When Donald Trump became president, we all agreed that the only thing we all knew was that we had no idea what would happen. We might predict a Hillary Clinton presidency. We understood Barack Obama’s agenda. George W. Bush was an easy man to figure out. All have similar temperaments. Trump is/was/will be a wild card forever. So on March 6, when he tweeted out the following 47 words, let’s be honest, no one was really surprised.
“Possible progress being made in talks with North Korea. For the first time in many years, a serious effort is being made by all parties concerned. The World is watching and waiting! May be false hope, but the U.S. is ready to go hard in either direction!”
Immediately, pundits on both sides started breaking down the pros and cons and logistical ramifications.
“There are so many outliers and so many moving parts to this meeting that it could be a major logistical problem for all sides involved,” Yun Sun, the Co-Director of the East Asia Program at Washington, D.C.’s Stimson Center, told Fox News. “Trump doesn’t care how he is perceived domestically among politicians, so he might be the only president to actually do this.”
The key phrase here is “Trump doesn’t care how he is perceived domestically among politicians.” Trump’s wild temperament may be his downfall, but it might also make him more favored in history than anyone could predict.
I remember that there was a Garfield poster in my third-grade classroom that had Garfield in a tree next the dog Odie, stating, “It’s amazing what one can accomplish when one doesn’t know what one can’t do.” I don’t want to offend my Garfield fans out there, but Trump’s ignorance of the presidency is creating conversation with the craziest madman in the world.
Dennis Prager, my favorite conservative, stated on his talk radio show that having a “crazy” on the right is beneficial because it puts the evil crazies on check. Too often, the good guys don’t have a person to strike fear in the hearts of the madmen.
John Bolton disagrees. Bolton, a potential Trump cabinet member and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said on Fox News that North Korea’s leadership might be a strategic move to push their nuclear weapons agenda. He feared that North Korean leader Kim Jung-Un would butter up the president to take the heat off.
“The only thing North Korea is serious about is getting deliverable nuclear weapons,” he added.
There are basically three outcomes of this meeting.
1) President Trump creates a new relationship with North Korea, producing a new global economic player.
2) President Trump and Kim Jung-un get into a huge fight and a world war begins.
3) An agreement is met, there is a moment of peace, but eventually North Korea breaks its deal, and option 2 becomes reality.
Am I being too pessimistic here?
Interestingly, no U.S. leader has visited North Korea while serving in the Oval Office. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton traveled there, 1.) to seal a disarmament deal (Carter in 1994) and 2.) free hostages (Clinton in 2009), but both had been out of office for years before visiting the country.
In all reality, more bad than good could happen, and other nations could see us as possible negotiators with tyrants. Personally, I’m torn, as I see the potential in the meeting but also the possible disastrous ending. Of course, many felt that way in the 1980s when President Ronald Reagan met with Mikhail Gorbachev.
“Trump needs to take the same tone Ronald Reagan took when he met with Mikhail Gorbachev,” Robert Pape, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, said, referring to Reagan’s role in ending the Cold War by talking with the Soviet leader, “The two can’t easily re-create that, but that should be the goal.”
Trump’s presidency continues to play out like a surreal dream or nightmare, depending on who you ask. By visiting North Korea, it’s as if he’s reenacting the Seth Rogan film The Interview from a few years ago.
This isn’t a movie, though. It’s real life. It just sometimes feels like a comedy.