It was no coincidence that US President Donald Trump opted to hold his North Korean summit with Kim Jong-Un at the same time that his former fixer Michael Cohen testified in Congress.
It is a classic Trumpian move to avoid a lousy headline by creating a big flashy headline to suck away as much attention as you can.
Remember “Space Force”? The proposed fourth branch of the US military exists because the president’s administration was getting a lot of heat around their handling of migrant detainees at the US border, as the Washington Post reported last year.
If the man who ran your life for years stepped into Congress and called you “a racist, a con-man, and a cheat,” most people would accept that maybe it’s not going to be a good day for public relations, but Mr. Trump is not most people.
Anyone who has played “Call of Duty” will know the famous line from Captain Price in which he tells you the way to put out one fire is to light an even bigger fire right next to it. In the case of North Korea, Trump is going for the grandest headline that he possibly can. He’s going to end a war.
Since North Korea and South Korea pressed pause on the conflict indefinitely in the 1950s with a cease-fire but never formally declared an end to hostilities there is the real possibility that Trump and Kim could officially end 50 years of conflict at Thursday’s mysterious signing ceremony.
Ask any New Yorker about Trump and they will tell you what you already know. Donald Trump is the son of a hard-nosed, tough guy landlord. The president was never ingratiated into New York high society because the blue-bloods looked down their noses at him and his clientele.
Rather than fight the “new money” tag he inherited from his father, Trump chose to embrace it. Through this, he created a persona as a legendarily tough negotiator (buoyed by the success of the “Art of the Deal”).
Who does a tough guy get to do his dirty work? An even tougher guy – enter Michael Cohen. Trump himself has hinted heavily at the Cohen family’s alleged links to organized crime.
If there was one thing that Trump should have known, it’s that you don’t go after a man’s family publicly when he knows all of your secrets.
The president might have thought that Cohen would back down, afraid of the limelight or being proven to be a liar on a global scale, but all he appears to have done is give the recently disbarred attorney the testosterone kick he needed to go down fighting.
To call Cohen a liar means to say he was also lying when he was saying positive things about the president, so there is a double-edged sword here. Given that the administration was filled with dubious associates, the weight of presumption lies clearly against Trump in this case. Cohen could be a lying double-crosser, and maybe he is, but that lying double-crosser was Trump’s personal attorney for nearly two decades. It doesn’t say much for the Donald’s famous gut instinct.
The biggest obstacle to Trump managing to keep the world’s attention on him in North Korea is that he already told us he fixed the problem after last year’s historic summit with Kim.
The fact remains that Trump’s top advisers have repeatedly contradicted this claim. Here’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explicitly stating that Kim Jong Un is still a nuclear threat.
Trump wants everyone extremely excited about his latest rounds of peace talks. The problem is he already wasted his ammo on this. Most Americans don’t pay attention to what’s going on in North Korea on a day-to-day basis, and the president told them himself they didn’t need to worry about this anymore – so they didn’t.
Democracy is rather like currency. You have to believe in it for it to have value. With everything labeled a spectacle or a partisan ploy, it becomes harder and harder to see the woods from the trees.
The United States likes to talk about being the world’s greatest free nation, but confidence in the system is unraveling. Wealth inequality, food availability for working people, and hot weather have preceded every great revolution, and the cracks may be showing (at least we can’t blame the Fed about the weather.)
You can’t keep saving the world from nuclear destruction, Donald. At some point, everyone is going to start wondering: “Were you lying then or are you lying now?”
The most likely outcome of all this is that many people will think Mr. Cohen was lying then, and President Trump is lying now.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not represent those of, nor should they be attributed to, CCN.com.
Donald Trump/Kim Jong-Un Image from REUTERS / Leah Millis
Last modified: July 2, 2020 8:16 PM UTC