Some of the criticism aimed at President Trump over the North Korea summit is unpersuasive to me. I think presidents ought to meet with abhorrent foreign leaders. I disagree with those who insist that such meetings should be avoided for fear of raising the prestige of the dictator in question. And while I wish our president would’ve prepared more, I hope time proves the meeting a huge success. If so, I’ll praise him for it.
What galls me are the words Trump spoke after the meeting. North Korea’s leader “loves his country, he loves his people, he wants a lot of good things,” he said. Had that been it, I’d have cringed but forgiven a politically correct nicety.
“But he’s starved them,” Greta Van Susteren replied. “He’s been brutal to them. He still loves his people?”
Said Trump, “Look, he’s doing what he’s seen done, if you look at it. But I really have to go by today and yesterday and a couple of weeks ago.” He then briefly characterized the agreement that he reached with the North Korean leader.
Van Susteren had one more question.
“Because this is Voice of America,” she said, “it will be heard in North Korea, by the citizens of DPRK. What do you want to say to the citizens of North Korea?”
A big question!
Trump could’ve said, “America extends to you its friendship,” or “Despite any differences we may have with your government, despite what you may have heard, America wants to be a friend to your people, as we are friends to your neighbors.”
Instead, the president of the United States told the North Korean people: “Well, I think you have somebody who has a great feeling for them, he wants to do right by them, and we got along really well, we had a great chemistry, you understand how I feel about chemistry, it’s very important … we had it right from the beginning, I talked about that. I think great things are going to happen for North Korea.”
For goodness’s sake: One can be diplomatic without being Orwellian. And was being diplomatic even the motive? The president of the United States went to a trade summit, alienated our closest European allies, and called Canada’s leader “dishonest” and “weak.” And then he told an enslaved people that their captor “wants to do right by them” and—enough about them—that he has “great chemistry” with Donald Trump.
It was the just the latest in a long pattern of Trump’s needlessly lavishing excessive praise on those repressive humans who deserve it least. Last year, Trump praised Turkey’s strongman soon after his security forces beat up protesters in the United States.
How did Trump react to an authoritarian crackdown on drugs in the Philippines? Reuters reported, “Trump praised Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in a phone call last month for doing an ‘unbelievable job on the drug problem.’”
Now recall that Trump is the same man who has said of Russian President Vladimir Putin:
- “Will he become my new best friend?”
- “I do have a relationship with him.”
- “He could not have been nicer. He was so nice and so everything. But you have to give him credit that what he’s doing for that country in terms of their world prestige is very strong … and you look at what he’s doing. And so smart.”
- "I think I'd get along very well with Vladimir Putin, I just think so. People say 'What do you mean?' I think I'd get along well with him.”
- “Putin is a nicer person than I am.”
- “He’s running his country and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country.”
- “There are a lot of killers. Do you think our country is so innocent? Do you think our country is so innocent?”
And don’t forget the comments that Trump made in 1990:
When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength.
On a whole lot of occasions, Trump has gone out of his way to tell the public that he likes dictators or the way that they repress people. I believe him. That’s why I am morally disgusted. Trump is a depraved man who taints American honor and ideals.
And you know what, Trump supporters? Had Obama said all of that—hell, if he’d said half of it—you all know that you’d be denouncing him as loudly as you could. If you’ve stayed silent, you’re now complicit.