Over the weekend, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo found himself spending the night in Pyongyang, which is something Americans usually don’t do, unless they’ve been imprisoned by the Kim regime.
But in this case, Mike was in town for the first high level meeting between the United States and North Korea since the vaunted Trump-Kim summit took place in Singapore a month ago Wednesday.
Predictably, the North Koreans used Pompeo’s visit as an opportunity to produce some propaganda. Specifically, Pyongyang accused America’s top diplomat of employing a “gangster-like” style in the course of demanding proof of the North’s commitment to denuclearization.
At one point, Mike found himself essentially arguing with Kim Yong Chol about sleep quality, an exchange that was caught on camera by the media. Pompeo would subsequently err in referring to Kim Jong-Un as the “president” of North Korea, something of a faux pas because, unbeknownst to Mike, Kim’s grandfather holds the title of “eternal President” and always will (hence the “eternal”).
After escaping Pyongyang for the safe confines of Tokyo, Pompeo attempted to shrug off the North’s contention that the talks were “regrettable”. Asked by reporters whether he was, in fact, a “gangster”, Pompeo said this: “The world is gangster“.
He also told reporters he “refuses” to “go nuts.”
Keeping that promise (that he won’t lose his mind), is made immeasurably more difficult by his boss, who reportedly instructed Mike to hand deliver a CD single of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” to Kim Jong-Un.
Subsequent information suggested the package was not in fact delivered, possibly because Kim himself reportedly skipped the meeting with Pompeo in order to visit a potato farm.
Undeterred, Trump told reporters the following before leaving the U.S. for Europe on Wednesday:
I have it for him. They didn’t give it. But it will be given at a certain period — I actually do, I actually do have a little gift for him, but you’ll find out what that gift is when I give it.
As surreal as all of that most assuredly is, things got even stranger on Thursday afternoon when, after arriving in the UK following a botched appearance at the NATO summit in Brussels, Trump tweeted the following letter he says he received from Kim:
Two things there. First of all, that seems to underscore the notion that the despots of the world are learning that the best way to get on Trump’s good side is with over-the-top flattery because, frankly, Trump doesn’t know any better.
And second, Trump almost seems to revel in juxtaposing his warm, cordial interactions with dictators and autocrats against his cold shoulder approach with America’s allies.
Finally, one wonders how long it’s going to be before Trump demands that U.S. citizens address him as “your excellency”.