John Colson: Trump was showboating at the Korean border
Hit & Run
Our president has just performed a short, simple ceremony that has made the world pause a moment, stare blankly into space and wonder what will come next.
On Sunday, Donald J. Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to enter the long closed realm of North Korea, formally known by its longer misnomer, The Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea.
The reason for the exercise was to allow Trump, our arguably insane leader, to shake hands with North Korea’s seemingly equally nutty leader, the dictator Kim Jong Un, just inside the territorial border of the isolated nation of some 25 million souls.
The nation’s name is a misnomer, by the way, because North Korea is as far from an actual democracy as one nation can get and still be part of Planet Earth, since Kim inherited his job from his father and is the only one who ever runs for the presidency there.
The handshake at the Korean border was blatant and rather insipid showboating on Trump’s part, as he once again strove to establish his skills as a negotiator and deal-maker. In reality he simply played into Kim’s hands by staging what the people of North Korea and much of the watching world will interpret as a monstrous diplomatic coup in favor of Kim and his government.
And the most troubling part is Trump seems not to understand that he has once more proved that he is a charlatan, a king without any clothes, a pretender possessed of a pathetic need to see himself as the supreme dealmaker and biggest winner of all time, when he really is the biggest loser of all time.
On top of the bluster, pomp and ceremony of the handshake itself, U.S. news media (lead by the “failing New York Times,” as Trump likes to put it) have revealed that Trump’s administration is now considering a deal that would let North Korea keep the estimated 60 nukes it claims to possess, while supposedly imposing a “freeze” that would limit the tiny nation’s nuclear arsenal at its current level.
When I first read that, I couldn’t believe it.
Let us not forget that Trump is the guy who spent a year or more insulting and threatening Kim, before he suddenly pivoted and declared his “love” for Kim and his style, and who repeatedly and hotly has declared that North Korea must be made a nuke-free state. So much for that, eh?
This also is the guy who, in 2015 and 2016, campaigned on getting Mexico to pay for an idiotic, unneeded and ineffective “border wall” along the southern U.S. border, but who now wants the U.S. taxpayers to shoulder the financial burden of this misbegotten scheme.
And he’s the guy who, while campaigning, heaved insults across the Pacific Ocean on the leaders of The People’s Republic of China, but then pivoted again once he gained the White House and has been cozying up to the authoriarian Chinese leadership ever since.
He even once spoke admiringly about the fact that Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has changed the laws of China to permit him to be “president for life.” Trump, you may recall, expressed interest in doing the same for himself.
Interestingly, Trump’s approval rating, according to the Project FiveThirtyEight that tracks presidential approval polls, stands at about 42% and has not budged appreciably since January, when it plunged to 38% or so.
The latest polls cited by FiveThreeEight were conducted over the weekend, at about the same time as the showy display of bonhomie between Trump and Kim at the Korean Demilitarized Zone. I eagerly await new polls taking the handshake into account, which will offer a glimpse into the mindset of the troubled U.S. electorate as far as Trump is concerned.
For now, I am astounded that 42% of U.S. citizens (at least if you trust polling data, which I wonder about) are said to continue to regard Trump as an acceptable leader of this country.
As I have written before, I’m convinced that the only reason Trump was elected is because he appealed to undereducated, underpaid and undervalued white voters who are deeply afraid that they are losing control of this country and that people of color soon will be calling the shots.
It’s racism, pure and simple, that has fueled Trump’s move into the White House, and if he manages to stay there after the 2020 election it will once again be racism that does the trick.
Which is one of the reasons this whole series of charades with the leadership of North Korea and China is so interesting.
Trump is a racist, I think we can agree, and by definition racism is directed in part against people of Asian descent. Trump made his racist attitudes clear to all during the presidential race, and he has not done anything in office to change the perception that he despises people of color.
The implication of his “victory” in 2016 (remember, he actually lost the popular vote by some 3 million ballots) is that his racism must resonate with some of his voting base.
So why might these racist supporters, who seem to believe that people of color are responsible for all their troubles and pain, go along with Trump as he fails miserably to advance U.S. interests and values in his dealings with Kim and Xi, thereby allowing them to claim to have beaten Trump at his own game?
I think this loyalty is simply a rather insidious form of electoral delusion. Upset over the direction this country is headed in, they convinced themselves that Trump will fight to keep whites in power both in the U.S. and around the globe, and that nothing else matters beside that one goal.
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