President Trump’s latest crooning over the Butcher of Pyongyang has his supporters scratching their heads.
They find his generous words regarding the Little Rocket Man harder to explain than why the president chose to jack up the media’s dump-Trump frenzy by barb-bombing John McCain’s grave last week.
Let’s stipulate from the get-go that if you don’t get who Mr. Trump is, you’re either not drinking enough or too much.
You want to attack the mogul turned SuperPol? Fine. But count on instant retaliation of larger lethality. For The Donald, not returning fire signals weakness, failure and lack of pride. The only cheek we are likely to see Donald J. Trump turn to critics is the one covered by the seat of his pants.
That’s why 62.9 million Americans voted for him in 2016.
Now let’s discuss what you’re silently wondering: Mr. Trump’s out-of-nowhere tweet Friday rescinding what would have been the deadliest strangulation of trade with North Korea to date.
Here’s what the president tweeted: “It was announced today by the U.S. Treasury that additional large scale sanctions would be added to those already existing sanctions on North Korea. I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional sanctions!”
Why rescind the order?
Because love is blind? At a West Virginia rally in September, Mr. Trump said this about Kim Jong-un: “He wrote me beautiful letters … We fell in love.”
Can you imagine a U.S. president saying that about Pol Pot, Joseph Stalin or Adolf Hitler, each a charmer in his own way I’m sure, after an exchange of happy-talk letters about the resemblance of the Khmer Rouge or Stalinism or Nazism to FDR’s progressivism?
This time, with Mr. Kim, it’s about a dictator who has starved the people of his country while spending billions on becoming a nuclear power — money “borrowed” from President-for-Life Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China.
We’re talking here about the Idi Amin of the Pacific Rim, the fat little bâtard who ordered the murder of 340 fellow Koreans since he took power in 2011. The poisoned, butchered or blown to bits include his half brother, his uncle and tons of government officials — some executed by anti-aircraft gun for issuing “false reports.”
To the unpracticed eye, Mr. Kim hasn’t lifted a fat finger to eliminate his stock of nukes, which we expected him to do after Mr. Trump, following an in-person pow-wow with Mr. Kim, announced North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat.
To the practiced eyes of however many honest-to-God conservatives there are in the U.S. military and at the State Department — you know who you are — it also looks like this pudgy progeny of a Stalin-Hitler one-night pact has done nothing to eliminate his nukes.
Instead, he has now concentrated missile launchers in the middle of population centers. That makes it nearly impossible for U.S. Air Force to take out the bad stuff without killing thousands of innocent Korean civilians.
So denuclearization hasn’t happened. People in Mr. Trump’s own administration say it will never happen (though three years ago, some of those same people said the Trump presidency would never happen, even though they wished it could).
None of Mr. Trump’s predecessors, Republicans and Democrats, got anywhere near this far in reducing Korean Peninsula tensions.
Betting Mr. Trump has up his sleeve an unrefusable offer that will turn Mr. Kim’s swords into ploughshares is like betting Justify, a 5-2 favorite, would win the Kentucky Derby last May. But he did, and went on to win the Triple Crown.
OK, that brings us to how McCain got into the same Kim-Trump-sanctions news cycle.
The years of McCain-Trump insult trading seemed to have ended with the latter’s death seven months ago. Suddenly last week Mr. Trump decided to spew hot lava over the memory of the favorite Republican of the New York Times and every other liberal.
Democrats and the press — some redundancies are unavoidable — are mostly the ones lambasting Mr. Trump for spit-balling McCain. The truth is that most Republicans held McCain’s political inclinations in as low a regard as liberals and Democrats (redundancy alert) held them high.
McCain fulfilled the hopes and dreams of countless Democrats by successfully pushing for more regulation of federal campaign contributions so that now billions more special-interest money pours into presidential runs instead of less. He pushed for U.S. launching endless wars in the Middle East. Under President Barack Obama, McCain was one of five in his party to most often vote the Obama way and in 2013 voted he do so more than half he time.
The adoring press corps called him a maverick. What many conservatives called him is unprintable.
Near the end of his life, in a fit of pettiness toward Mr. Trump, McCain cast the fatal “no” vote on the bill to repeal the Obama Unaffordable Care Act. That alone could go a long way in explaining the Democrats’ trouncing of Republicans in the House last November.
Mr. Trump’s McCain denigrations got our undivided attention, first, because our parents taught us it’s impolite to speak ill of the dead, even if the deceased was of the other political persuasion. This speak-no-ill rule obtained no matter how big and justified the animus you bore toward the dead person. Unless that person had been convicted of brutal murders or was a Yankees fan.
Second, we were astonished to hear a president mention that neither McCain nor his family ever thanked Mr. Trump for granting McCain the funeral he wanted.
To the unpracticed ear, that Trump compliant sounds petty (actually, it doesn’t sound terribly gracious to the practiced ear either).
But then when graciousness tangles with Donald J. Trump’s pride and self-respect, pride and self-respect win. Every time.
Even Hillary “I coulda been president” Clinton in her most bitter moments — which arise when breathing in and breathing out — understands that Mr. Trump is a hero to the millions of Americans who voted for him. They did so because they think he’ll never let himself act like a punching bag in a starched shirt just to please either Trump haters or his best-intentioned friendly critics.
Yes, he can make you wince at times, but he gets you to pump your fist far more times.
That any of the known alternatives haven’t a prayer of denying his re-election next year is reason enough to bless yourself if you’re of that religious persuasion — or do something equivalent if of another or no persuasion.
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