13 June

Summit Thoughts: Our Better Angels. Let’s Do It Here

by Jon Katz
Summit Thoughts

I had this idea that if the President treated everyone around him the way he treated Chairman Kim, the world would really be a better place and quite quickly. I mean, if he can do it for a mass murder, why not for the rest of us?

No one in the Democratic party (that I know of) has assassinated an uncle with an anti-aircraft gun or  starved hundreds of thousands of people to death, but they also seem willing to sit down and talk with the President, especially if he calls them honorable and talented instead of all those nasty names he uses on Twitter.

Maybe we are onto a breakthrough all across the board, it would be quite wonderful to see. He knows how to kiss some ass when he wants to.

Like a lot of other people, I wasn’t sure what to make of the “historic” Singapore Summit.

Everybody likes a great show, and our President knows how to produce one, for sure.  I was going to say all we needed was a Ringmaster, but then, I saw we had a RIngmaster.  We could have used some dancing elephants though.

The air went out of the tires quickly for me, despite all the breathless hype coming from the thousands of journalists who were there. They sure loved to say “historic,” and put it up in all of their graphics.

For the most part, I admired President Trump’s boldness in agreeing to sit down with Kim. I like  his willingness to think outside the box sometimes, and disregard convention. We did need some change, a shake-up was long over due.

I have tried to do that in my life as well.

As I watched the clips from the “historic” summit, I did have this sinking feeling though, I didn’t think I  was looking at history, just some sort of Show Summit, like the Show Trials the Russians used to love to conduct when they wanted to promote the idea they were just.

Like Gertrude Stein is alleged to have said of Oakland,Calif., there seemed to be no “there” there.

It was too much for me to see the President slobbering all over Kim, one of the leading murderers of our age,  and transforming himself into a fanboy to one of the most ruthless and murderous dictators on the earth. Couldn’t they have just met and worked some things out for a few hours, did we really need all of this BS?

We are now living Orwell’s nightmare, truth and reality no longer really exist, it’s all about what comes out of the screen, truth is in the hands of the face on the screen.

One of the frustrating things about President Trump for me is that his election had some real promise.  I live in rural America, I know how unhappy many people are with Washington and how screwed-over they have been. I was surprised, but not shocked.

He just never lets me like him. It is good of him to try diplomacy rather than bombast, I hope he succeeds, for his sake and for ours. He does love a spectacle and perhaps that’s what the world needs. But content matters too, I think. Sweet talking bad people has never worked for me, I hope it works for him.

I couldn’t get this thought out of my head, though. If he can be so nice to Kim, how about trying it on the rest of us, or at least the political opponents right here in America that he is always trashing on Twitter. Even if all the slobbering is fake – and it seemed quite genuine – he knows how to do it. Why not try it at home?

I get that this President really likes most dictators, he admires their clarity and firmness. It does, after all, take some talent to keep so many people in prison camps starving to death and freezing.

Imagine Mr. Trump walking into the White House Briefing  Room, and saying, “hey people, I’m here to talk to you. I respect you and your honorable profession, I know you must be talented to get here, and I like and respect you from the get-go. You don’t have to do a thing!”

Or if he motored right down the hill – not 6,000 miles away – and walked into Congress and said, “hey people, I admire what you do, I know how hard it must have been for you all this time, but we have a lot of things to work out so we can help the people right here in this country as well as in the Korean Peninsula. So let’s sit down and listen to each other. Maybe start with helping all those poor kids dying of  opiod addiction or those terrified refugees and immigrants who need our attention.”

He could call it the Washington Summit, and fly to Australia and then back with great fanfare, flags, marching bands and soldiers and  jets flying overhead and many limos, and meet in a big and fancy hotel (his, maybe), crowds lining the streets,  flags and red carpets ad pennants flapping in the wind,  and wall to wall TV coverage,  a billion people watching. Sen. Schumer and some Democrats could walk across a carpeted hallway and shake hands with him, pat him on the back and be patted, ` and they could go and watch a slick video showing the great things that could happen in America if we stopped yelling at one another and sat down to talk and get things done for people.

if we can do this for Mr. Kim, then we can talk to anybody, yes? I mean, there are not many people in the world quite and vicious and explosive as he is, all the others should be easy. I don’t know anyone who killed their uncle with a cannon. Maybe we can even promise to disarm ourselves and stop killing and maiming all those kids in school?

Progress without boundary, maybe. Why does this seem like a fantasy, when it just really happened? So we know it’s possible.

Wow, just imagine such a thing: the world would turn upside down and I would dance in the barn  rather than hide behind the hay.


  1. your frustration with trump is very apparent in your continuing series of posts — from your most recent admiration of stormy davis and your state of the farm speech… now the president is attempting to bring the threat of a nuclear nightmare down a significant level and you can not resist to turn into something else that is more than 1 person’s doing (congress inertia from both sides of the aisle on your favorite “hot buttons” as well as those pouncing on the summit before it is even allowed to breathe — C. Schumer) Take deep breaths (meditate) and give the dynamics of the undertaking a chance… spoken from a long standing democratic family going back to JFK…

    1. Bob, thanks for the message. I’m afraid I don’t know what you are talking about. Please try again, I’d like to understand if you could be a bit clearer, I sense you are trying to be snide, but I’m not getting it.

    1. Yes, I know, she didn’t say that at all, she meant the Oakland she knew had changed, but I love the quote. You can read about it in the wonderful new debut novel “There, There,” by Tommy Orange. He is an amazing writer.

  2. It is my understanding that Kim has wanted to meet with every President of the US, this is the first one that has agreed to do so. He has wanted to be recognized as a major player in global politics–kind of hard to do when you have such a distressed country that he has created. So, since he now has nuclear weapons, he counts as one of the big guys.

  3. I dread each day for what Mr. Trump may say or do. It is going to take forever to win back our allies with the nasty things he has called them. In the meantime he will get his hotel and golf course in North Korea.

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