North Korea tests the limits

Has ever a story suffered from so gross a surfeit of pointless analysis as Bill Clinton's trip to North Korea? Tired megalomaniac dictator trades ego-stroking photo op with former US president for two US hostages. From the American point of view: why not? Cheap at the price. But what more is there to say? Precisely nothing. Watching cable news and especially CNN give this topic blanket coverage and color commentary from all hands, for lack of anything else to report in a slow week, was sometimes almost harrowing. My favorite moment was when they broadcast the transmission test image from North Korean TV. What do they mean by those vertical bands? Gripping.

And still it goes on. Here's Fox on the Clintons-psychodrama angle. And this morning's NYT opines:

We do not know the details of Mr. Clinton's meetings, but we hope they lead to future talks. That poses a challenge for Mr. Obama: while he must pursue this opening, he must not be so desperate for a deal that he lets North Korea set all the terms. He struck the right note when he told MSNBC on Wednesday that Mr. Clinton's mission had not eased the need for North Korea to alter its behavior if it wants a "path to better relations."

A pivotal moment, all right.