Even his own people tell Americans not to take President Trump's words literally. Take them seriously, they advise, but not literally. Which is good advice. Every president's words should be taken seriously.
But this president has a way of overemphasizing on matters large and small. Everything is beautiful and lovely--or disgusting and weak. He's either talking about the greatest mess that's ever been handed to a president (the Iran deal) or a policy that's a "disaster" (Obama's on energy). His favorite word during the presidential debates might have been "tremendous."
So when this president holds a news conference with Lil' Kim of North Korea, take him seriously. Not necessarily literally.
"We will have a terrific relationship, I have no doubt," President Trump told the world. "We are going to have a great discussion and I think tremendous success."
We'll see. So far there may be only a few things that we can know about this week's summit:
• North Korea's regime isn't to be trusted. For decades now, presidents have gone down this path, relying on the better angels of the Kim Dynasty to save their people. (My, how the Romanov family, of the Saint Petersburg Romanovs, would have marveled at a communist royal lineage.) The people making the decisions north of the 38th Parallel have lied over and again. And the odds are they're doing it again. Trust but verify. It was a good rule another POTUS observed.
• The regime in Pyongyang is still perhaps the worst government on the planet. There are plenty of books describing what can only be called crimes against humanity in North Korea. There will have to be real changes on that front before America can have long-term diplomatic relations with that country. After all, we have our souls to think about.
• To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war. It's only been a few months since these two men were sharing personal insults. Lil' Kim has been known to execute people with air defense artillery. He may be crazy enough to launch a suicidal first strike if humiliated and provoked. So shaking hands and smiling with President Trump at a presser is perhaps a step back from the brink. Let's hope so. Let's pray so.
• Americans shouldn't expect much else in the days to come. To give up his nuclear arsenal is to invite regime change, and Kim Jong Un isn't likely to do that, no matter what President Trump says about complete denuclearization. Remember: seriously, not literally.
• And this minor win for President Trump, and it certainly is that, is going to drive the left in this country even more batty. Hours after the two men went inside for talks, columns had already hit the wire saying essentially whew! we averted a nuclear war. And that the president was taken to the cleaners. The best some of his opponents will allow is that the summit was meaningless.
The world, or at least much of it, has taken a step toward peace, and there is a line of communication open between two countries still technically at war. We wouldn't call that meaningless. We'd call that significant, consequential--even Earth-shaking. But not literally.
Editorial on 06/14/2018
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