What a day for headlines. Orrin Hatch will be displaced by Mitt Romney; Paul Manafort, accused, sues Mueller, his prosecutor; the FEP dissolves his Voter Fraud Commission after laying the groundwork for Voter Suppression in 2018 and 2020; and Iran continues widespread protests without a peep from the governing Theocracy.
My choice for today’s most interesting twist is the return by North and South Korea to bilateral talks. Technically, the talks are limited to the safe transport of athletes of the Hermit Kingdom to and from this summer’s Olympics. Sigmund Freud supposedly said that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. However, Monica Lewinsky proved that sometimes it’s not.
The talks may be Olympian but the meaning is commonplace. The Gemini State is exhausted by existential threats and is ready to thaw out from the long, cold war. After all, the nuclear arms of the North are only effective as a threat.
If it is so, history may well record reunification to be the master stroke of the American President. His negotiating strategy is taken from the classic playbook. There’s nothing more disarming than bargaining with someone who is crazy— or seems to be. You don’t want to give credence to crazy threats. On the other hand, you can’t ignore them. Trump out-crazied Kim Jong-Un, leader of the most batshit regime on Earth. Give him credit; he gives good nuts.
Trump countered Kim’s rockets with taunts. One time he announced that the Seventh Fleet was steaming to the South China Sea. Actually, it was turning figure-eights in the Indian Ocean. Today, he said his nuclear button was bigger and badder than Kim’s. As we speak, his National Security Advisers are adapting Yo Mama jokes for a Korean audience.
Dubya said, “Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.” Well, we know what he meant. You can’t play crazy twice. If your opponent sees you’re bluffing in matters of war—that the knucklehead isn’t crazy enough to incinerate the planet — his lunatic act loses its effectiveness. You realize that he’s just striking poses. It isn’t brinkmanship exactly but it works. Once.