Trump Kim Jong Un Hanoi Summit
Credit: The White House/Flickr

This is just a casual observation on a Friday afternoon when I’ve come down with a cold and the media seems convinced that the Mueller Report is coming any second. If it does, I might have to read it in my bed. In any case, I was just thinking that perhaps a competent president might be aware that his Treasury Department is about to announce tough new sanctions on North Korea before they actually go ahead and do it.

Now, I know that sometimes things slip through the cracks or a busy person forgets something important while distracted by their preparations for a weekend golf outing in Florida. It can happen to the best of us, really, if you think about it. But, if something unfortunate like that happens, the best way to deal with it is probably with a bit of discretion after calling together the impacted cabinet secretaries and informing Congress. After all, reversing such a momentous decision could have unforeseen consequences and it might upset some key allies or disturb the financial markets. It might make your whole diplomatic team look like hapless idiots and your country look like it can’t tie its own shoelaces. Probably best not to just countermand your own order in a tweet without consulting anyone first.

Just a thought. I know I think too much, but someone has to do the thinking around here. And Trump certainly isn’t doing any thinking because the sanctions were apparently aimed at two Chinese shipping companies and not specifically at North Korea at all.

It’s all fine, though, because White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders helpfully explains that the president “likes Chairman Kim and he doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary.”

Sleep well, fellow Americans. Have a good weekend.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at