Trying to wrap one’s head around everything that’s happened on the geopolitical front over the last three days is an exercise in abject futility, but I think it’s worth noting that as surreal as it all seemed headed into Tuesday, things took a further turn for the bizarre in the hours leading up to the Trump-Kim summit.
Just a day after accusing Justin Trudeau of “going rogue” and stabbing Trump in the back following the G-7, Larry Kudlow had a literal heart attack and the world learned about it from Donald Trump, on Twitter, just minutes ahead of the meeting with Kim.
As far everyone knows, Larry is fine – I mean, as fine as you can be after having a heart attack.
“[He’s] doing fine,” his wife Judy Kudlow told WaPo, adding that the “doctors [at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center] are fabulous.”
He’s awake and talking and is expected to “make a full and speedy recovery,” according to Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
And it’s a good damn thing, because if Larry dies, nothing stands between Peter Navarro and Trump when it comes to trade. So here’s hoping Kudlow does indeed pull through – and right quick.
Shortly after Trump made the Kudlow announcement, he showed up to meet Kim and the first handshake was a bit awkward:
— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 12, 2018
After that, everyone appeared to warm up to each other, as Trump explained how well the two autocrats are going to get along. Kim seemed at least as incredulous as everyone else with regard to this whole thing having actually come to fruition:
Pres. Trump says he's honored to meet with Kim Jong Un in Singapore. "We're gonna have a great discussion, and I think tremendous success." https://t.co/1VnaYeIvzF #TrumpKimSummit pic.twitter.com/p41qlep6Bs
— ABC News (@ABC) June 12, 2018
Things proceeded apace from there and we’d be remiss not to note that Kim is a murderous dictator who starves his own people and Trump is treating him with far more respect than that afforded to Macron and Merkel over the weekend. And that’s to say nothing of Trudeau, who Trump is now literally at odds with diplomatically.
Spot the difference. pic.twitter.com/LluNpC2fp4
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) June 12, 2018
They hung out on the balcony together:
JUST IN: President Trump and Kim emerge from first meeting.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 12, 2018
And Trump promised that “things will be better” after telling Kim what an “honor” it is to be with him:
President Trump to Kim: "It's a great honor to be with you, and I know we'll have tremendous success together. We'll solve the big problem, the big dilemma, that until this point has been unable to be solved." https://t.co/iwAPHi65ak pic.twitter.com/xP2VmBeQx0
— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 12, 2018
Jokes aside (and God knows there are so many of them that it isn’t even worth trying to list them all), there is nothing “honorable” about Kim Jong-Un. He’s a despot.
That’s not to say that Bolton-style regime change is a feasible strategy (that would invariably go just as wrong as it went in Iraq and Libya and Syria and everywhere else it’s ever been tried overtly or covertly), it’s just to state the obvious which is that it’s one thing to acknowledge that a power vacuum is perhaps worse than allowing a dictatorship to persist, but it’s entirely another to meet with a dictator and call that meeting an “honor”.
But just when you thought it couldn’t possibly get any fucking sillier, Dennis Rodman showed up on CNN (live from Singapore) and started crying whilst donning a red #MAGA hat and a Potcoin.com t-shirt (and do try and appreciate how confused Chris Cuomo is):
"Today is a great day," former NBA star Dennis Rodman says in an emotional interview in which he describes his relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un https://t.co/eoNeZnYFm7 pic.twitter.com/6gouUPBBpX
— CNN International (@cnni) June 12, 2018
Potcoin is bitcoin for cannabis and I for one am very glad it is not being forgotten in this somber heartwarming moment of Dennis Rodman wearing a potcoin t-shirt with his MAGA hat to comment on the historic meeting of august dignitaries who call each other dotard and rocket man
— Virginia Heffernan (@page88) June 12, 2018
As usual, there’s an old Trump tweet just waiting to be resurrected for the occasion:
Dennis Rodman was either drunk or on drugs (delusional) when he said I wanted to go to North Korea with him. Glad I fired him on Apprentice!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2014
Your guess is as good as anyone’s in terms of what to make of all this, but what I would say (and I think this assessment is pretty much universal outside of maybe Fox News and the usual Right-wing blogs) is that this summit is first and foremost a publicity stunt that will play well both with Trump’s base and also with North Koreans, who now have “proof” that Kim is taken “seriously” on the international stage.
Meanwhile, as Trump and Kim and Rodman film The Real World Singapore, America’s traditional allies can only look on in disbelief and wonder what comes next.