No joy in Hanoi. The nuclear talks with North Korea have broken down.
No peace prize, then, looks like.
It started out OK, and at a photo op Kim even answered a puffball question from a foreign reporter, something he’s never done before, but while the two potentates made a good show of being enamoured of each other over dinner, end of the day Kim wanted more than The Donald could swallow, and the nuclear talks came to an abrupt end. Geez that’s sad, but never you mind, Donny. You’ll get him next year.
Actually, this was one of those rare non-insane decisions that Donald makes once or twice a year (I’ve written about a couple of these before, in tones of mixed astonishment and confusion*), so good on him. For once, he wasn’t the chump. He gave up nothing. Walking away from the table does tend rather to undermine the previous narrative that North Korea had already agreed to denuclearize, back in Singapore – in that case, why is there any table to walk away from at this point? – but by now, Donald realizes that this doesn’t matter. He’ll tell the Base that we’re getting there, sure as shootin’, and anyway ongoing diplomacy is better than that war Obama had in the works. Nobody in the Base will recall that it was actually Trump who escalated tensions in the first place, with all that “rocket man” and “fire and fury” schoolboy taunting. No one will understand that where we are today, after all that hollering, hype, and two summits, is exactly where Obama both got it and left it, just like the two presidents before him, because nothing more has thus far been possible on terms even halfway acceptable. Old news. All that matters now is that it was once very tense, and now it isn’t, so yay Donald.
Still and all, credit where credit’s due. Donald somehow realized that the cunning little dictator was aiming to fleece him but good, and in achieving nothing, he actually achieved much by the standards of Trumpspace: we’re no further behind. Yes, diplomatically speaking it was a gong show. Heads of state aren’t supposed to get together at these summits until advance teams have already worked out the details, at which point the high mucky-mucks simply sign the accord and pose for photos. Trump’s crew isn’t capable of that sort of thing, and anyway Trump prefers to go into these meetings utterly unprepared, relying instead on his worthless gut. For all of that, though, we’re no further behind. This is very good news, and nothing I was willing to bank on.
The real tragedy here, from where Donald sits, is that he now has no triumphant news to drown out what’s been going on over at House Oversight, with Mikey Cohen spilling beans, letting cats out of bags, and generally being the sort of rat who turns on the boss when he gets pinched by the feds. Bastard! When are these morons going to take one for the team, like Paulie Manafort, bless his pointed little head? Where’s the loyalty? The gratitude? Doesn’t he know he’s expendable? Was he never schooled in the fine art of taking the fall?
It’s not even what Cohen had to say that’s really upsetting. All Mikey did was confirm that Trump is a slimy, grifting, avowedly racist criminal who didn’t want his undoubtedly moron-level grades or SAT scores to go public, that plus he continued to carry out an illegal hush money operation from inside the Oval, while he was President. The prick actually attached a cheque as an exhibit. Still, no surprises there. No, what was actually upsetting was the way that the Southern District of New York kept coming up, how Mikey had to repeatedly keep from going into details because they were the subject of ongoing investigations. At one point it went like this:
Committee Member: Are you aware of other crimes, not so far discussed, that are under investigation by the SDNY?
Uh-oh. It’s starting to look like Mueller may be the least of Donald’s problems. It’s the frigging Southern District that’s going to clamp his balls in a vice, and all his relatives too, even pretty Ivanka, over all the dirty little things they’ve all done for years. To this line of investigation, Russia is irrelevant. This is about insurance fraud, bank fraud, tax evasion, money laundering, all the mundane sordid shit. There’s even talk of them invoking RICO! RICO, for the love of God, the thing they use to castrate the likes of John Gotti! Even that’s not the worst thing, since RICO is federal, and Trump probably still believes he can resign and get Pence to pardon him and get him out from under it. It’s all those State crimes. Nearly everything you can do to break federal law carries some sort of penalty under State law too. One course of conduct can jam you up in both jurisdictions, and President Pence won’t be able to protect him from State Attorneys General. No doubt the AG of New York will be on him like a buzzard on a dead gnu. By the time NY is through with him, there’ll be nothing but a pile of bones left to bleach in the sun.
Also, you can’t trust that Pence guy. He might just have enough of a sense of humour to go “psych!” at pardon time, and leave Donald to swing slowly in the breeze, the better to further his own political agenda. Sure, he stands there at all the photo ops, looking like a reverent mannequin as he regards his master with adoring eyes, but you just never know, do you? Anybody can turn rat. Anybody. Trust no one.
That Jared looks like a career squirrel too, come to think of it. What do you bet they could flip him like a goddam flapjack, comes to that? Well, two can play that game, soldier. Donald didn’t come all this way to lose a frickin’ game of Prisoner’s Dilemma to a little weasel like Jared Goddam Kushner. In fact, he might have to preemptively throw all of them under the bus, Eric, Don Jr., even the girl. If only he had something on Melania worth trading. They probably don’t think it’s any big deal she’s an illegal immigrant, and other than that she’s lily-white. She’s been real careful to stay that way, you know? Like she saw this coming from way back. Wait! Christ! What if she made tapes, like Mikey?!
Better reopen that inquiry into whether a President can pardon his own ass. Oh, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to check out how Kim and MbS feel about offering him political asylum. You can do OK, going into exile, if you got some dough socked away where the feds can’t find it. It worked for Idi Amin, didn’t it? Didn’t he wind up in Saudi Arabia? The Royal Family even paid him a stipend for behaving himself, isn’t that right? Pretty good deal! Yeah, Donny could go for something like that, push comes to inevitable shove.
One way or another, there’s always a way to skate, you see. That’s one of things you learn when you’re a Trump.
*Like that time Donald made a bang-on assessment of the relative merits of the aircraft launching systems of US Navy super carriers, and rightly bemoaned the abandonment of steam catapults in favour of unproven electromagnetic technology. How in the hell…?
Sent from my iPad