Trump: A fondness for authoritarians
“The evidence is now overwhelming that Trump cannot resist a dictator,” said Roger Cohen in The New York Times. During and after their summit in Singapore, the president lavished praise on Kim Jong Un, calling him “a very talented man” with a “great personality.” Asked about Kim’s atrocities—starving his people, executing anyone even suspected of disloyalty, and imprisoning an estimated 100,000 people in North Korean gulags—Trump said, “He’s a tough guy,” and praised his ability to keep the country under his control at such a young age. Trump added: “He loves his country very much.” When Trump went so far as to salute a North Korean general in Singapore, it occurred to me that “the president is envious of Kim” and his military dictatorship’s ability to control the North Korean press and jail people who dare challenge his authority. For the same reason, Trump has also gushed over Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, Xi Jinping of China, and Vladimir Putin of Russia, while treating democratic allies like “a bunch of losers.”
If there was any doubt of Trump’s envy of Kim, said Mike Allen in Axios.com, he dispelled it when he got back to the White House. In an interview on Fox News, Trump said Kim “speaks and his people sit up and pay attention. I want my people to do the same.” Later, Trump told incredulous reporters that he was “kidding” when he made that comment. Ha ha! What a dry sense of humor the president has. Whenever Trump meets with a thuggish foreign autocrat like Kim or Putin, said Mona Charen in NationalReview.com, the photos show him grinning happily. “Why is our president smiling?” He can’t mask his admiration.
Perhaps Trump is not as naïve as you think he is, said Michael Hirsh in Politico.com. He understands the vanity of leaders better than most, and it’s quite possible he’s using lavish flattery to win Kim over. Previous presidents have tried “confrontation, bargaining, and bartering with North Korea, and all have failed.” Trump spoke to Dear Leader “in language the two men understand,” even presenting Kim with a video “portraying the two leaders as men of destiny.” If appealing to Kim’s pride will end his nuclear threats and increase the chances of peace, “stroke his vanity till it hurts, Mr. President.” ■