I was really taken aback by the coverage of President Donald Trump’s summit with Kim Jong-un.
Now no one would call President Trump’s North Korea policy conventional. He has played “good cop, bad cop” in front of the whole world in the highest stakes negotiation there is. First he attacked Kim Jong-un and threatened his destruction. Then, as his campaign of economic pressure crippled Kim, forcing him to the negotiating table, Trump took a more friendly approach. The result? Kim signed an agreement expressing his interest in denuclearizing, vowed to halt nuclear and missile tests, released U.S. hostages and returned the alleged remains of dozens of U.S. soldiers from the Korean War.
Those are pretty good things.
The two leaders met in Vietnam to see if they could push the ball further down the field towards their stated goals, including denuclearization.
Reasonable people can disagree with how President Trump has tackled this problem, and should be suspicious of Chairman Kim’s intentions. None of Trump’s predecessors have been able to successfully deal with this dictatorial, nuclear-armed, “hermit kingdom.” North Korea has frequently cheated.
Facing these challenges, maybe an outside-the-box strategy is exactly what we needed to shake things up, and make Kim Jong-un think twice.
But even if you disagree with President Trump’s strategy, I would think and hope that you would share his goal of denuclearization of North Korea. After all, a nuclear-armed North Korea threatens Americans here at home, our servicemen and women overseas and allies across Asia.
This is why I was shocked to see not just pundits but even U.S. senators undermining President Trump before the Vietnam summit by questioning his judgment, and suggesting he was going to get outmaneuvered. House Democrats, by having the circus of the Michael Cohen hearings coincide with the Trump-Kim summit, further poisoned the political atmosphere.
You just don’t attack your president when he’s overseas, and especially not when he’s trying to achieve peace for Americans and people all over the world.
Amazingly, when President Trump walked away from the table, stunning many of the critics who had claimed he would accept any deal for the sake of a political “win,” he was then called a failure.
But refusing a bad deal is what leaders do. It is what people acting from a position of strength do. It takes courage. As many commentators noted, this was a Reagan at Reykjavik moment.
Yet in the face of his political opposition, Trump could do no right.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen people rooting against the country if it helps damage Trump.
It’s a very disturbing trend.
This is about more than any one president, or any single issue.
In America, we can and should have heated disagreements over political matters.
That we can do so freely is one of the many things that separates us from a North Korea, or China or Iran.
But we should disagree agreeably.
And when we hash out arguments, we should never lose sight of the goal, which is to do what is best for the country – not what is best for party.
If party is all that matters, we will tear apart the things that make us great.
And then nobody wins. In fact, we all lose.