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Saturday, May 26, 2018

North Korean drama allows Trump's critics to show their ignorance

As editor of National Review, Rich Lowry is supposed to be an expert on national politics. But he got the entire presidential election wrong. From Republican nomination to Trump's 30-state sweep, Lowry was wrong.

He continues to get it wrong because he refuses to learn from his mistakes.

On Thursday, President Trump called off the summit with Kim Jong Un.

Lowry -- an instant expert on Asian-American relations -- immediately pounced.

"While Trump imagined himself doing what no president has before – solving the conflict on the Korean Peninsula – the North Koreans surely believed they could get Trump to do what other presidents have done before – give it a favorable deal in the hopes of solving the conflict on the Korean Peninsula," Lowry wrote.

"Although the North Koreans must worry about the madman theory of Trump, they probably also considered him in some respects an easy mark. His weakness is obviously his susceptibility to flattery and his self-image as the world's best deal-maker. Throw in an allergy to details and the North Koreans would have had plenty of material to work with.

"They had early success in starting a negotiation over a negotiation that pushed Trump, at least momentarily, to soften the core U.S. demand for swift denuclearization. But the president showed he has his limits, or at least wants to re-establish leverage, with his starkly worded letter canceling the summit."

Let us review what happened. Kim released three hostages, and on Wednesday/Thursday (Thursday his time, Wednesday ours) Kim destroyed his nuclear testing facility.

With the hostages safe and the test site closed, Trump decided he did not need the summit.

Kim immediately begged Trump to reconsider.

For some reason, Lowry wrote Trump off.

"Trump loves high drama and believes he can size up anyone across the negotiating table. That makes a summit alluring to him, but he'd be better off playing a round of golf," Lowry wrote.

Trump has played golf. With Japan's Prime Minister Shinz┼Ź Abe. More than once.

Trump's dined with Chairman Xi of China. Twice. Once at Mar-a-Lago, once in the Forbidden City. Xi turned down golf. Bad optics.

Trump has met with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea a few times.

I think Lowry had Chinese take-out on Wednesday.

Trump built an empire worth more than a billion dollars by negotiating with politicians, land owners, banks, and contractors. We have seen his work around the world.

What has Lowry done? His Against Trump issue proved once and for all conservatism is a facade at National Review.

We all make mistakes. It is the fool who does not learn from them.

Charles Bolen, a reader in Charleston, offered a unique insight in a tweet this morning, "Another factor is that the DPRK may have figured out it’s a better deal to reconcile with US and South Korea than continue to be dangled as a puppet state by China as a foil for American interests."

Far more interesting than any of the groupthink Lowry serves.

On this Memorial Day weekend, I would like nothing more than to honor the 33,000 American men who died in the Korean War -- and the decades of American men who served there (including my brother-in-law in the 1970s) -- by ending this war peaceably, once and for all.


  1. Just wish Truman hadn't surrendered to China after MacArthur won the war.

  2. I said a while back that Trump has the upper hand in this because he can afford to walk away, but Kim doesn't have that luxury. He's under orders from China to make something happen, and if he doesn't he will be the next one getting a whiff of nerve gas. His spouting off at Trump was him assailing his Chinese handlers in a passive aggressive way. The only way available to him. He knows he cannot afford to threaten the Chinese with a loss of face.

    Of course Trump knows all of this. He understands the oriental mindset better than any college trained "expert" around here because he has been doing foreign business for decades.

    You're right. Lowry probably knows a few Americans of oriental dascent and thinks he understands the way their cousins overseas think. The take out boy is his insider.

    1. Some Asian and Arab cultures focus heavily on "face" and there are rituals they go thru to satisfy everybody's ego. Americans are notorious for running roughshod over the traditions of the people they are negotiating with.

      Trump knows what he is doing. Notice that he never calls out Putin or Kim personally. He'll criticize Russia and then say nice things about Putin. He says nice things about Kim.

      That's how you negotiate.

    2. You are absolutely correct. The left refuses to think beyond their failed ideology dictated hatred.

  3. I don't know how this will end but what I see so far is encouraging and Trump hasn't lost anything.

    I'm trying to imagine Obama negotiating with foreign leaders. He would arrogantly make offers based on what he thought they should have rather than what they wanted, and then he'd get pissy when they didn't agree. And he'd always end up giving away too much for too little.

    1. Obama had to exit AF1 from the "back door" when he went to China and was snubbed. The Chinese respected him so much that they didn't even provide the usual exit ramp, and many officials had their backs to him when he came down the stairs from the rear of the aircraft.

      Contrast that with President Trump's visit, where he and Melania were greeted with elaborate ceremony and escored into the Forbidden City with much pomp & circumstance.

      The Chinese are many things, but fools they are not!

    2. We're one inning into the ball game; it's a bit early to call it.

      -Mikey NTH

  4. What is a pundit worth if he cannot predict anything? Rich was wrong about the election and what DT would do and has done. The response of him and his never Trump losers has been to keep predicting disaster. In reality they have no choice. To admit error would be fatal. Once an oracle proves wrong it means the gods no longer speak within it. No one comes to seek them there anymore, ever.

    1. One of the most important effects of Trump's election (for me) is the realization that those like Kristol, Lowry, Will and so many other talking heads were just poseurs. Total bullshit artists who went to the right schools, attended the right cocktail parties and talked to each other convincing themselves that they're the elite. Smarter than everyone else and that the serfs damn will better listen up. Instead they've proven to merely be smooth talking imbeciles.

    2. I feel the same. Will liked to mention Obama's magnanimous visit to his home after the election, made he said, to "listen" to him and his fellow conservative intellectuals ( most all of whom became Never Trumpers). Will later used the occasion to promote his own insider bona fides although neither he nor any of his fellow philosophers ever had any influence on policy. Instead, as far as I can tell, Will recognized his privileged Ivy League self in Obama. He always felt more comfortable with Obama in power, even as he was personally burning down the very Ivory tower in which Will was living , than the tawdry and educationally unworthy Trump. Many years ago, although not an Ivy guy myself, I watched an important position in one of their institutions go to the less than best candidate, and also the only applicant. When I asked the Ivy crowned author of the decision why he had made it, he merely replied, "He had all the right tickets", ie he was one of them, and that was enough. I'm sure Will and his colleagues felt the same way in opposing Trump. Will is on the board at Princeton, Clinton went to Yale. For him and them, that was enough.

    3. American friends gave McCain and Romney the low sign, saying the right will never with this sort of candidate. What did they say when Trump announced himself? Oh, no - not HIM! He's totally unsuited to the role. One friend admitted he was prepared to stay home on election day and spend the next four years saying 'Don't blame me, I didn't vote for her.'
      As you night expect, those friends have been pretty quiet these last 18 months.

  5. Steve in GreensboroMay 26, 2018 at 11:03 AM

    Thank you, Don for everything you do, including reading the tripe generated by the chatterers so I don't have to. I finally gave up on National Review in April 2012 after they fired one of their few remaining sensible writers (Derbyshire). I have avoided the magazine on-line and in print along with all of the chatterers affiliated with them. But you, brave soul that you are, continue to read them. I do have the stomach for it. Thank you.

  6. Li'l Kim wants something more, protection, maybe, as several have suggested.

    But Trump doesn't need to assuage the Norks. He will make the deal on his terms.

    1. Investment and jobs. Labor costs in NK will be a lot lower than in SK for some time. Once a formal peace treaty ending the war is signed, companies will be allowed to do business in NK, build factories using the cheapest labor on earth (even cheaper than Viet Nam), and Western aid to rebuild will flow into NK and the secret Swiss bank accounts of the NK leadership. All you need is love.

  7. Read elsewhere that the tunnel collapse gave Kim an out-there are rumors that he Kim family are held hostage by an extended family and the Military. Part of the two or so hundred besides scientists and the odd Iranian, were the Top Brass.
    The ones the Kims have to answer to..
    Dead.Mashed like a cockroach. Hasta la vista, baby. Planned? maybe.Fortunate, yes.
    Good times..TG

  8. Excellent post and excellent comments. Thank you all.

  9. I quit reading Rich Lowry after the tiresome NR beat-up-Trump stupidity. Also quit reading NR. Also quit reading George Will. Also quit reading Jonah Goldberg. Also quit reading Kevin Wmson, though before he went to the Atlantic and lasted a day.

    You guys are embarrassing. You're just not smart enough to bother reading.

  10. The elite are used to the vague and ineffectual nuances of the John Kerry school of diplomacy. Trump won't be bringing James taylor to any summit. The pundits have litle to analyze with Trump. He says what he means and he does it. They never dreamed that a politician would actually keep his campaign promises. Trump doesn't want a Nobel Peace prize. If Obama got one for his peace accomplishments how much of an honor can it be?

  11. "He continues to get it wrong because he refuses to learn from his mistakes."

    Maybe he's not capable of learning.

    Let's find out. Get Lowry to rub his two IQ points together, see if he can start a fire.

  12. Lots of piling on NR in these comments, and I love it! You guys all speak for me, and no doubt, millions of others, as we saw in November 2016.

  13. As long as we're talking about Never Right (i.e. Correct) pundits at NR and WS - can someone answer a question for me?

    What's with the fund-raising cruises? Who goes on them and what's the attraction? To me, if you're going on a cruise, why not go where you want when you want and not necessarily for listening to political talks during the day? Of course, I'm not the "cruise type", so I don't really know.

    And this comment isn't snark - though it may read like it. I've actually been wondering about this for years.

    1. As one who has felt the Cruise Ship attraction [full disclosure: I had a subscription to NRO for several years,] I'll attempt to answer your question.

      1/ Poor people don't go on these cruises. It shows the world (and people in your local country club) that you've arrived, and have the means to take an expensive cruise without ending up in the poorhouse.

      2/ You get to mingle & hob-nob with people you admire. At one point I thought Jonah Goldberg was extremely witty (I was half right) and the other conservative pundits would have me hanging on their every word. Who wouldn't want to enjoy the company of those who seem like demigods, when you're a mere mortal?

      3/It can be a stepping-stone to possible appearances on TV, and it at least gives you something to talk about when you're called on to give a speech at the local Rotary Club or similar. Cruises are popular with social climbers.

      4/ And of course you also get to go to these foreign ports in the company of a great many people who are just like you, which means you'll probably enjoy their company.

      Hope that helps!