by Jeffery Rendall
It’s always curious to watch the lead-up to a high-profile boxing match; the more you see the respective camps maneuver the more you recognize the “show” isn’t really about the fight itself. After all, two guys roped into a ring beating the stuffing out of each other isn’t all that interesting (except maybe in a morbid way) — it’s more like the media and fans are sizing up the opponents to determine who might best use his tools and technique to gain an advantage.
Regardless, in the end it doesn’t matter. All the pre-event hype invariably leads to one of the participants laying on the canvas receiving the ten-count. Hours in the gym, skill and experience no doubt guided the winner. But let’s face it – it boils down to whomever was the tougher guy.
The establishment media lead-up to President Donald Trump’s meeting with NORK dictator Kim Jong-un this week sounded a lot like a boxing match promotion. Trump threw the talkers into a tizzy last week when he said he wasn’t doing much preparation for his face-to-face with Kim. Essentially Trump suggested he’ll go with his instincts when the time comes.
Trump’s hostile critics were horrified; they implied he was a “competitor” out of his league.
Chris Cillizza snidely wrote at CNN, “Trump — during the 2016 campaign but especially after it — seemed to revel in the fact that he wasn’t some egghead, studying up on every issue. Trump cast those types as part of the problem — out-of-touch elites who spent all their time reading books and no time at all dealing with actual people.
“Book smart was out. Street smart was in.
“Which brings me to Trump’s belief — as expressed on Thursday — that the key to the summit with Kim isn’t policy, it’s attitude. Be tough. Be willing to walk away. Let the other side know you are serious. Details are for staff to work out, not for the big boss to worry about.
“It’s a view on life that has gotten Trump to this point — so dismissing the ‘attitude’ approach out of hand is a mistake. But international diplomacy — with nuclear weapons in the mix — seems to be something different altogether.”
For the record I’ll take Trump’s “street smarts” any day over Obama’s, Kerry’s and Hillary’s scholarly elitist heads full of charts and white papers compiled by university political science professors who double as propaganda dispensers for the Democrat National Committee.
The whole notion of “preparation” to Trump is receiving a concise and likely short briefing on the situation, perhaps a bit of study of Kim Jong-un the individual (or heinous rocket man dictator, whichever you prefer) and maybe a couple minutes to strategize on what point to do something dramatic if things aren’t going well.
An international summit isn’t a place where a moderator asks each side questions and strictly times answers and rebuttals. When you get down to it, this Trump/Kim tête-à-tête isn’t much different than a business meeting between two parties who both want something from the other. Ultimately Jong-un wants to keep his head connected to his body, his military to protect him from his own people and assurances from South Korea and the U.S. that if he lowers (most of) his guns that he won’t end up in a ditch somewhere like Muammar Gaddafi.
I personally believe Kim seeks to turn North Korea into his own exclusive fiefdom with riches in proportion to his disunified countrymen to the south – and China too. What’s motivating all of this? A simple common sense realization that most of his people are starving in the freezing dark eating Alpo to stay alive when practically every country around them is booming, well-fed and rich.
Why not live a little? There’s only so much cheese a guy can eat.
And who better to provide hope for a wealthier future than Trump, the purveyor of luxury worldwide? Trump instinctively understands people and it isn’t hard to figure out what Kim truly wants and is willing to give up. There is room for compromise here; Kim can dismantle his nuclear delivery systems but keep his defensive nukes. Trump can offer to lift the sanctions, provide a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from South Korea and swing an agreement for domestic companies to “invest” in North Korea.
Everyone wins? We’ll find out this week. It’ll depend on Kim’s willingness to trade a suppressed ego and his nuclear button for a little better living situation for his people; he’ll also swallow the worldwide impression he capitulated to the hated Donald Trump.
So is Trump ready for all of this? Some think he’s almost too prepared for the media to accept. Roger L. Simon of PJ Media wrote last Friday, “Of course, there is a lot more to it, including the role of China, but the real question is who would you trust to negotiate the U.S. and the world out of this mess — some diplomatic veteran of twenty-three visits to Pyongyang or Donald Trump? I would imagine most objective observers would, reluctantly or not, choose Trump.
“That won’t stop his critics for a second. Chuck Schumer, on Twitter, is clearly ‘worried,’ or pretending to be: ‘With ICBMs and nuclear warheads in the hands of North Korea, the situation is far too dangerous for seat of the pants negotiating.’
“Many of these critics — in a sad commentary on human nature — would unconsciously or even consciously prefer the negotiations to fail than to deliver Trump such a significant victory. Call this Trump Envy that is now superseding Trump Derangement Syndrome as the president is appearing more successful and seems likely to serve a second term. In a way, that’s a form of progress.”
Democrats must be shaking in their boots at the prospect of a smiling Trump and Jong-un emerging from a sit-down with a “deal” both sides can live with. Trump’s approval ratings are already slowly inching up, the economy is just getting started on the GOP tax cuts and people are feeling good about themselves again, even if they’re still not sure about Trump’s personal style.
If you add a major foreign policy achievement to the mix it sucks all the oxygen out of the naysayers’ rooms; their fires go out and they die from asphyxiation. Donald Trump wasn’t qualified, remember? He was an intellectual lightweight while also being a knee-jerk hothead who’d say the wrong thing and drum up an international crisis by uncouthly staring too long at some president’s wife or wearing the wrong colored socks to a negotiation session.
The media depicted Trump as an arrogant incompetent dolt in 2016. Standing next to the long-accomplished Hillary Clinton on stage would expose his inadequacies, right?
This is the same kind of snobby elitist condescension Trump’s experienced since the earliest days of his political career and all throughout the presidential campaign. When it came down to debate preparation Trump didn’t barricade himself in some lecture hall at an Ivy League school to “train” for the forum with a bevy of hand-selected advisors and “coaches” to tell him what to say. No, Trump took the same type of “it’s going to be fun” attitude towards political debates and henceforth turned in decidedly distinct and straightforwardly effective performances.
Like a boxer Trump never retreated from a challenge and wouldn’t allow himself to be confined in a corner either. Taking blows without a counterpunch isn’t his style. The president’s opponents know full well the man isn’t going to destroy himself.
Rich Lowry wrote at National Review, “After 18 months of Trump, the GOP is possibly in position to retain control of both houses. Despite the constant low-level sense of crisis, despite the tweets, despite the Russia investigation, despite the Stormy Daniels scandal, despite the extravagant message indiscipline.
“A year or six months ago, it was possible to see Trump as Samson pulling down the temple on top of himself and his party in an epic feat of destruction. It hasn’t happened. Of course, he’s capable of committing a monumental blunder at any time. But he has not yet lived down to the assumption of so many of his critics that he would make it easy for them as the instrument of his own rapid undoing…
“Trump will have to be beaten in the normal course of politics, which means Democrats need to take him seriously, learn from him, and attack him purposely and intelligently. Being perpetually appalled and assuming that he’ll do his opponents’ work for them is wishfulness rather than strategy.”
At one point Lowry was considered a #NeverTrumper but subsequently came around to offering begrudging respect and mild praise for Trump. These days it’s hard to tell where he stands on the president which makes for very fair commentary, even if I disagree with Lowry that Trump is “capable of committing a monumental blunder at any time.”
If that’s the case, when did such a “blunder” occur? It hasn’t; Trump is too clever to ensnare himself in a media trap and the Democrats are too blinded by their own hatred and contempt for the man to think clearly enough to bring down Trump.
Kim Jong-un won’t be smart enough either. This isn’t Obama we’re talking about.
In considering the months-long back-and-forth between Trump and Kim Jong-un I tried to remember if there was a similar type of anticipatory lead-up to an event Obama had with a world leader – and couldn’t recall one. Sure, Obama met with just about every head of state on the planet yet few, if any, generated the gravity and importance of this week’s Trump-Kim summit.
Why is that? Perhaps because Obama’s lead-from-behind foreign policy never promised anything of consequence, much less delivered it. If Obama’s philosophies (if there were any) could be summed up in two words they would be “status quo.” Obama never went abroad hoping to talk an adversary out of nuclear proliferation and certainly didn’t rock the boat anywhere other than the Muslim world.
Trump draws people’s glances simply because he makes the subjects interesting. Going back to the boxing analogy, the “match” itself is more than just the sum of the two competitors’ performances. If they have different styles, personalities and backgrounds – and maybe a big dose of peculiar animus – then fans and non-fans alike will tune-in to see who wins. Will it be the bad guy? The good guy?
People want to know. Is politics really so different? Human beings from all over the planet will watch this week as Trump and Jong-un sit across from each other for the first time. Their deliberations won’t be televised and the media can’t be trusted to report on what happens there.
But it will still be fascinating to watch. Why? Because it’s important.
Americans appreciate big things. If only Congress would get the message. Pete Kasperowicz of the Washington Examiner reported, “The House late Thursday voted to ban the use of plastic drinking straws from its cafeterias, in an effort to raise awareness about the environmental damage straws can create when thrown away.
“Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., offered his proposal as an amendment to an energy and water bill that should be passed on Friday.
“’This amendment … would prohibit the House from spending funds to purchase plastic drinking straws in our eating areas here in the House,’ he said on the House floor. ‘Plastic drinking straws are considered considerable environmental risk to marine mammals and fish.’”
No Republican objected and the amendment passed on an uncontested voice vote. Sigh.
No one can say for sure what will happen when Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un talk this week, though the importance of the occasion and the fact two enemies are meeting should not be discounted. Trump may not have spent hours poring over books – but he’ll be ready. Count on it.