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June 15, 2018

Our Reaction to the North Korea Summit Depends on Our Predisposition About Trump

It goes without saying that Democrats would view President Trump’s North Korean negotiations quite differently than Republicans, but I was honestly surprised by the strong negative reaction of Trump critics on the Right.

It goes without saying that Democrats would view President Trump’s North Korean negotiations quite differently than Republicans, but I was honestly surprised by the strong negative reaction of Trump critics on the Right.

Don’t get me wrong; some Trump critics on the Right reflexively oppose everything he does or says, but my gut reaction when first learning of the summit was that even they would grudgingly acknowledge this as a positive development. But their reaction was viscerally negative, harsh, cynical, pessimistic and absolute. Either I overestimated their capacity for some fairness concerning Trump or I am radically wrong in how I interpret the summit results.

I have witnessed an ontological certitude — both intellectual and moral — from a certain type of conservative Trump critic. These critics not only are sure of their beliefs but seem equally sure that conservative Trump supporters must have an ulterior motive because they couldn’t possibly retain their principles and support him. I believe they are way off base — their judgment clouded by their bias against Trump — but I don’t doubt that they believe they are doing what is right. However, they won’t extend us the reciprocal benefit of the doubt.

They often smear conservative Trump supporters as cultists — saying we would abandon our principles, even our commitment to national security, to support Trump or cover up his missteps or tweets. There may be some Trump supporters who appear that way, but rarely is this a cultish phenomenon, any more than is the loyalty of supporters of other strong political figures, such as Presidents Obama and Reagan.

I think the attraction to Trump is grounded in an abiding patriotism. His supporters are deeply concerned about the leftist assault on America as founded and the Left’s dedication to completing its fundamental transformation of this nation. I can’t deny there’s a charisma factor, but if Trump had preached anything but a singularly pro-American message, his campaign wouldn’t have gotten off the ground.

Now, concerning North Korea: Yes, Trump exaggerated when he tweeted that North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat, but it didn’t unsettle me, because I know he didn’t mean it literally. We know from everything else he said that he is approaching this soberly and has the long view in mind. A national security hawk, he is aware of the traps and North Korea’s history of deceit. He will insist on verification. And he has surrounded himself with very serious and brilliant foreign policy advisers devoted to America’s national security.

I’ve never done this, but let me share some of my tweets on why I am very upbeat about Trump’s negotiations with Kim Jong-un so far.

“I’m not sure, but it seems to me that the different reactions to Trump’s NK negotiations this week, especially among those on the right, are largely attributable to people’s predispositions about Trump personally — significantly more so even than other issues & it’s fascinating.”

“I think there’s a major difference between Trump rejoicing at NK’s promises & Clinton or Obama doing so. Whatever else you think about Trump, he is a patriot & is committed to America’s security & those priorities transcend his desire to just make a deal, unlike Obama & Clinton.”

“It was as if Obama was so obsessed with making a deal that he’d virtually sell us out to do so — not virtually, he actually did in some respects. No way I believe Trump would do that, on inspections or anything else. I am sure many Trump skeptics will scoff at this assessment.”

“People who are savaging Trump because nothing concrete is done yet are spitting in the wind. It’s impossible that anything concrete could be done yet. Those criticizing any deal because of difficulties in verifiability are also just naysayers. Of course there will be difficulties.”

“How is it legitimate to criticize Trump’s outline of a plan on verifiability concerns when those steps have yet to be specified? Just calm down and let the process unfold. If Trump doesn’t ensure verifiability then or is lax about it, go after him by all means. I think he will.”

“I also think there is a real chance that Kim believes Trump might take military action if Kim betrays us and goes forward. There is little chance he or his predecessors would have feared that with Democrat appeasement presidents.”

“In the end, what are the critics kvetching about? Seems to me their criticism is way more premature than Trump’s celebration. It is inconceivable that much more could have been done substantively than was done in the first meeting and Trump said much work remains.”

“Is there even one leftist critic who would oppose a Democrat president trying to work toward denuclearization? They didn’t complain when Obama’s [Iran] deal was completely done and he’d given away the farm. Trump’s deal is just in outline form & he’s given away nothing — not yet.”

“I understand people freaking out over Trump’s tweet on this, but do you REALLY believe this means he won’t do everything he can to follow up — and ensure adequate security measures are implemented, or no deal? Because I do, so his optimistic tweet is just that & nothing more.”

“If Trump didn’t give a da— about America’s national security I’d be very skeptical. But I am convinced America’s security is his foremost priority here. That is why I’m not worried — like I would be big time with Obama. And I’m right. Yep, I’m right on this.”

“It seems that some conservative Trump critics fear that conservative Trump supporters would compromise their priorities — like national security — to support Trump even if he were jeopardizing it. No way. We support him, among other reasons, precisely because he’s a security hawk.”

“We are in the beginning stages of a process that has started off with great promise. Nothing more; nothing less.”


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