Trump Is Going Into the North Korea Summit Armed With Attitude

Frankly, I think it is absurd for pundits to berate Democrats for not being cheerleaders when it comes to next week’s summit between Trump and Kim Jong-un. We heard it last round from Jeff Greenfield. Now Nicholas Kristof has weighed in with a column titled, “Democrats Childishly Resist Trump’s North Korea Efforts.”

What Kristof calls “childish,” I call playing the adult in the room. He takes issue with this:

“Any deal that explicitly or implicitly gives North Korea sanctions relief for anything other than the verifiable performance of its obligations to dismantle its nuclear and missile arsenal is a bad deal,” seven Democratic senators, including Chuck Schumer, warned in a letter to Trump this week.

While I doubt that Trump will actually listen to that input, it is good that at least someone is thinking ahead because the president clearly isn’t.

National security adviser John Bolton has yet to convene a Cabinet-level meeting to discuss President Donald Trump’s upcoming summit with North Korea next week, a striking break from past practice that suggests the Trump White House is largely improvising its approach to the unprecedented nuclear talks.

For decades, top presidential advisers have used a methodical process to hash out national security issues before offering the president a menu of options for key decisions. On an issue like North Korea, that would mean White House Situation Room gatherings of the secretaries of state and defense along with top intelligence officials, the United Nations ambassador, and even the Treasury secretary, who oversees economic sanctions.

But since Trump agreed on a whim to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un on March 8, the White House’s summit planning has been unstructured, according to a half-dozen administration officials. Trump himself has driven the preparation almost exclusively on his own, consulting little with his national security team beyond Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has made two visits to Pyongyang to meet with Kim personally. Trump has also not presided personally over a meeting of those senior NSC officials, as a president typically does when making the most important decisions.

Today, the president reiterated that he’s not really into spending much time or energy on preparation because it’s all about attitude.

This is the guy we’re supposed to be cheering for…seriously? He’s a walking bull in a China shop when it comes to foreign policy. Kim Jong-un might be a madman, but I doubt he’s dumb. This White House has signaled in every way possible that they want a deal—any deal—and they’re too unprepared to know a good one from a disaster.

I’m willing to cheer for just about anything that makes the globe safer from the nuclear threat. But I also know when someone is setting themselves up to be played. That is exactly what’s happening here and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60 .