Without knowing what our intelligence and defense experts know, it’s hard to assess President Trump’s judgement regarding his recent “fire and fury” comments about North Korea.
It is easy, based on the “narrative” about Trump — that he doesn’t read much and speaks off the top of his head — to decide that he went too far in his comments. And I would agree with that analysis at this stage.
And, there is a but.
But I was watching CNN yesterday analyzing his statement and listening to Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) being interviewed. Both Markey and Wolf Blitzer went too far in how they talked about the situation. Markey was criticizing Trump and saying he should be focused on going to the negotiating table (something he said repeatedly) and Blitzer, within just minutes of North Korea’s tension-increasing response to Trump late in the day, was putting us on the edge of nuclear war with his harried voice and leading questions.
In this case, I would agree with Trump’s criticism of the media because Blitzer was hiking the fear based on the two most recent statements by the U.S. and North Korean governments…a step way too far especially since the citizenry is scared enough. Blitzer needs to understand, and I assumed he does, the role he (and TV news) plays in getting the citizenry hopped up.
Trump, my guess is, would go to the negotiating table if North Korea would so thank you, Sen. Markey, but that isn’t the option at the moment. Kim Jong Un says he won’t negotiate if his nuclear weapons are on the table. Maybe a negotiating ploy, but still it’s what he’s saying and his behavior in recent months backs that up.
My point is, as difficult as it is to determine what the President really means when he says something, the excited reactions to what he says can be equally confounding, and wrong and add to the public’s understandable concern.
Blitzer was a terrific print reporter, focused primarily on the Middle East way back when. As a TV reporter, while still quite smart, he tends to hype a story not only in word but in his harried approach to interviewees. Markey, for his part, was as much playing politics with a dangerous situation as he says Trump is.
There need to be adults in the room, including in the newsroom.
We all hope that Chief of Staff John Kelly, Pentagon Secretary James Mattis and National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster, generals all, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are the adults in the Oval Office — — still, Donald J. Trump is the President.
But the hype of cable news added to two testosterone (faux or not) leaders — Kim and Trump — can scare the hell out of anyone.
We must remember that North Korea wants war as little as the USA does — they have more to lose than we do, but we both would lose a lot as would the world.
Kim’s statement, alluding to the craziness of Trump’s words, is trying to get under the President’s skin. That’s a tactic that we’ve seen work with Trump who is for the moment is turning his Twitter account on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — why I don’t really understand –over the Senate’s failure to pass health care legislation.
But at least McConnell doesn’t have his finger on a nuclear button.