The Thinker: Rich Galen


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Trump Gets the Credit

Rich Galen

Thursday May 10, 2018

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  • Three men, Kim Hak-song, Tony Kim and Kim Dong-chul, arrived at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, DC last night having been released by North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un and retrieved by U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

  • Keep in mind that Kim should not be treated as a great humanitarian. He captured and imprisoned these three men. He also captured, tortured, and was responsible for the death of a young college student, Otto Warmbier, a year ago.

  • Nevertheless, Kim . . .


    Kim is his last name. Someone referred to him as Chairman Jong-un. That would be like calling Trump "President Don."


  • Kim did release these men in the run-up to the expected summit with President Don in the next month or so.

  • If Kim had continued to test his weapons and delivery systems, Trump would have had to respond - maybe leading to the death of thousands of innocent Koreans on both sides of the border.

  • If this process continues to a safe and secure Korean peninsula - and we should all hope that it does - then Trump will legitimately claim credit for doing something no President since Harry Truman has been able to do.

  • If it breaks down then Trump can still claim he did no worse than every President since Harry Truman, but he had given Kim every chance to join the 21st century world.

  • Same thing with the economy. Unemployment is down. Work force participation is up. The GDP is growing at an acceptable (read: non-inflationary) rate. And, the stock market opened this morning at about 24,540 after closing at about 19, 830 on the day Trump was inaugurated. That's an increase of about 24 percent which is pretty good growth in anyone's portfolio.

  • If all those numbers were upside down, Trump would be getting the blame. We would be pointing to his indecipherable trade policy, his walking away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, his continuing hectoring of NAFTA, signing a tax bill heavily weighted toward the wealthy, and the rest of his weird economic moves.

  • But, either because of, or in spite of, all that, the economy is good and according to NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan, small business earnings were the highest in the history of its monthly survey, which dates back to 1973, and small business optimism is equally buoyant.

  • This week, Trump declared the U.S. was cancelling its participation in the 2015 deal between the major industrial Western nations and Iran. Whether you thought that deal which was strongly backed by President Barack Obama, was good or not, it resulted in the reinstatement of economic sanctions on trade between U.S. companies and Iran.

  • It also might, according to people who understand these things far better than I, embolden the hard-liners in Iran to take action against Israel and the U.S.

  • Indeed, hours after the Trump announcement, Iranian Qud forces fired some 20 rockets into Northern Israel which caused Israel, according to the BBC, to launch a retaliatory strike against "almost all of Iran's military infrastructure inside Syria in its biggest assault since the start of the civil war there."

  • If Trump's making good on a campaign promise by cancelling the deal is a good thing, but leads to an all-out war between Iran and Israel, that would create what we used to call in college debates "a new and greater evil."

  • Most of the morning shows didn't lead with any of this. They led with the news that Trump's personal fixer, Michael Cohen, cashed in on the election results by getting corporations to pay him millions of dollars to help them understand how a Trump White House would work.
    A. If that's not adding muck to the swamp that Trump promised to drain, I don't know what is, but;

    B. We don't know whether Trump even knew about Cohen's new consulting business much less that he participated in it;

    C. It is not clear to me that any of that is illegal - shadowy, maybe, but not illegal, and;

    D. No one - not even Trump - understands how the Trump White House works, so they should ask for their money back.

  • All of this might turn to ashes in a matter of minutes, but as of today, Trump gets the credit.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the release of the three men, to the NFIB, to Iran/Israel, and to the latest on Michael Cohen.

    The Mullfoto is of one of Mullfave Ginny Wolfe's favorite grammatical mistakes: A misplaced apostrophe.

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