President Trump visited North Korea this weekend and invited Kim Jong Un to the White House. Some venues such as Fox News and CNN are calling this a positive development for the President, while acknowledging that critics are disturbed at the continued validation of the North Korean regime.
The idea is that Trump will use his weekend efforts to promote the idea that he is moving toward a peaceful end to the threat of conflict with North Korea. They anticipate it being used in advertisements for the 2020 election, because they are viewing everything through the prism of early November.
In truth, Trump did score a significant win this weekend, but there were also grave losses.
The win came in the form of political oxygen. The hearings on Capitol Hill regarding the potential and certain criminal activities of Trump and his associates have been pushed off of the front page entirely.
More, the deaths of Oscar Ramirez and his daughter, which Trump claimed a border wall would have prevented, had combined with the stories of terrible living conditions for children seized at the border to risk another political conflagration on the topic. As was demonstrated with the poll numbers associated with the seize-and-don’t-return policy last year, when the American public starts to pay attention to what is going on at the border, Trump’s – and the Republican party’s – approval numbers drop precipitously.
The Democrats are not in a position, early in the primary, to raise those issues – because they wish to get all the attention they can onto their primary candidates, and the primary candidates are desperate to distinguish themselves. It is difficult to draw attention to yourself when you agree with everyone else. This is why lesser-known primary candidates tend to focus on fringe issues where they hold stark differences with the front-runners.
Meanwhile, the front-runners are the ones who typically attack the sitting President’s policies… but in this case, that is Biden, and he has most of his air time taken by defending himself against attacks from other candidates. The amplification of those attacks by many press members simply further depletes his effectiveness at attacking Trump.
All Trump thus has to do is shift the spotlight away from the border problem, and going to the DMZ may have done this.
For the future, however, the results are likely bleak. The President has demonstrated that he is willing to give repeated and dramatic concessions to foreign enemies in return for no material gain. Not only has North Korea not budged on its intent to retain and construct nuclear weapons, but they have achieved their long-stated goal of reducing joint military operations between South Korea and the United States. The further prominence on the world stage as a viable power, and the concurrent reduction in the perceived validity of “Americanism” – the notions promoted in our Constitution and Bill of Rights about individual value and freedom – are merely bonus gifts presented by President Trump.
The optics of the event, combined with attacks against Japan prior to and at the opening of the G-20, have also damaged our relationship with that nation even as Trump is suggesting that they need to develop their own externally-active military. This risks negating a significant result of World War II, something the United States demanded it receive due to the expansionist nature of Japan.
Meanwhile, validating the North Korean regime has undermined the rationale behind the Korean War as well. It is difficult to say there is a need to fight the expansion of communism because its record on human rights makes it an existential threat to America and we need to defend our allies, if you threaten to stop supporting your allies militarily and you engage in photo ops with people who are regularly torturing and killing their citizenry.
In both World War II and Korea, American soldiers died to protect the notion of world freedom and individual rights. Trump has undermined the gains we made in both wars in exchange for nothing more than a chance to shift the media narrative. The man who pledged to “Make America Great Again” is turning much of America’s history of success into a legacy of failure.