North Korea’s dictator absolved himself of the imprisonment and torture that led to the death of an American college student, selling his innocence to Donald Trump. Trump bought and resold it like a cultish marketer, and it all makes me sick.
“I don’t believe that he would have allowed that to happen,” the president of the United States said last week after meeting with Kim Jong Un, a man responsible for the oppression of his own people and, according to South Korea, the execution of his own half-brother.
“Those prisons are rough – they’re rough places – and bad things happened. But I really don’t believe that he – I don’t believe that he knew about it,” Trump said.
“He tells me that he didn’t know about it, and I will take him at his word.”
Otto Warmbier’s parents didn’t take Kim Jong Un at his word, and didn’t buy their president’s pitch for him.
“We have been respectful during this summit process. Now we must speak out,” they finally said Friday.
“Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son Otto. Kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity. No excuses or lavish praise can change that.”
I avoid the “Can you imagine if ...?” canard often played by partisan pundits. It’s usually nothing more than a sidetracking straw-man dodge. But, can you?
Can you imagine if you were the parents of a young American man dead under the auspices of one of the world’s most evil rulers, and had to watch your own president defend the executioner?
Trump said his comments about believing Kim had been “misinterpreted.” He couldn’t call them “Fake News” because he said what he said in front of cameras so he had to fall back on his second-favorite defense.
There’s not much to misinterpret with “He tells me that he didn’t know about it, and I will take him at his word,” but that won’t matter to the MAGA crowd. Trumpsters, a group which now seems to include most Republicans, will roll right along with his vile championing of Kim’s despicable lie as they roll right along with every vile thing Trump says or does.
It does make me sick. Much of what this president does makes me sick. Playing paddy-fingers with Kim is merely his latest. To Trumpsters and most Republicans, that makes me “deranged,” which is sort of puzzling.
I thought expecting a president of the United States to stand up for Americans against brutal dictators was central to conservatism.
I thought expecting an American president to possess “gravitas” and be the adult in the room was requisite Republicanism.
I thought seeing soldiers – even, and perhaps especially, those who fell into enemy hands – as heroes, was part and parcel to patriotism.
I thought being the land of “E Pluribus Unum,” where out of many we become one and where our president is supposed to be a leader of that transformation, was axiomatic Americanism.
Kim Jong Un is a murderous despotic dictator, the president of the United States has become his fawning publicist, and anyone who can’t abide him and his presidency has a Derangement Syndrome.
Life, in Donald Trump’s America.
Where I’m proud to be deranged.