It is a dangerous world, dominated by outsized personalities who act aggressively on behalf of their nations, including not hesitating to threaten — and even engage in — war.
Fortunately, one is President Donald Trump.
Another is North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, who with his developing nuclear arsenal represents the most imminent threat to the United States. In a landmark meeting Friday with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, the two agreed there would be "no more war" on the Korean peninsula and also committed to work towards denuclearization. But Kim's South Korean charm offensive will only get him so far — because now he has to deal with Trump.
History — and in particular, the American voter — has a way of calling forth the right person to lead at the right time.
History — and in particular, the American voter — has a way of calling forth the right person to lead at the right time. Trump is a flawed man — self-indulgent, megalomaniacal, a bit paranoid, driven by self-interest and implacably domineering. But these “flaws” also make him a big character, and as he prepares to confront Kim and the other great tyrants of the age, Americans can feel assured that they have chosen the right man for the moment.
Not too long ago, the struggles among great nations were defined by ideology, as democracy and communism competed for allegiance around the world. During that age, a relatively non-ideological, nonintellectual man like Trump might have had trouble understanding the thinking animating Russian and Chinese communists, hampering his ability to confront them. But with realpolitik and raw ambition supreme, Trump is the man for this current age of crisis.
The president will have no problem understanding the motivations of Kim and the other tyrants he faces, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, newly anointed Chinese President-for-life Xi Jinping and Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. And Trump has the outsized strength of personality to combat them — unlike any of his rivals in the 2016 presidential election.
Republican voters were offered several “nice” alternatives who were raised to be respectful, yet they chose they guy who’d wipe his mouth off with your tie.
Republican voters were offered several “nice” alternatives who were raised to be respectful, yet they chose the guy who’d wipe his mouth off with your tie. Then the general public concurred.
To fully appreciate Trump’s forcefulness, just think of the roster of strong, accomplished and even feared individuals he has crushed over the past two years. Men — and one woman in particular — whom he pulverized.
Trump adeptly diminished and rattled his opponents with what critics deemed to be crude putdowns. But Trump understood from a lifetime of primordial struggle in business and a successful career in personal branding that these labels would have lasting and damaging effect.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio became “Little Marco,” a name he may never live down and that might actually harm his chances to ever be president. Knocked off stride, Rubio rolled in the gutter with Trump — who no doubt welcomed him there — commenting obscenely on the size of Trump’s hands.
To fully appreciate Trump’s forcefulness, just think of the roster of strong, accomplished and even feared individuals he has crushed over the past two years.
An even worse pummeling rained down on Jeb Bush, who was widely expected to proceed through the primaries as if in a carriage to his coronation. Though armed with facts and figures Trump could never hope or want to learn, he was demolished in the Republican primary debates by Trump’s visceral attacks. Bush was so visibly unnerved and helpless that he morphed into “Low-Energy Jeb,” despite a reputation as a dynamic, hard-working politician.
Hillary Clinton’s subsequent loss in the general election to Trump, who attacked her relentlessly and repeatedly suggested she would land in jail, seems to have untethered her a bit from reality. Exposure to Trump has reduced this proud, strong woman to a wounded doe wandering the earth trying to figure out what brand of political tractor trailer hit her as she was crossing the road to the White House.
Steve Bannon, who built the populist revolution that elected Trump, ran his winning campaign and entered the White House as chief strategist, was marginalized and forced to return to his previous role commanding the powerful Breitbart website. He lost that as well when it became clear to Breitbart’s rainmakers that Bannon had run afoul of Trump.
Even more surprising, perhaps, is the hollowing out of a revered four-star general, John Kelly, who had triumphantly moved from the Department of Homeland Security to the White House chief of staff’s office to instill some order amid the disarray. He immediately put Trump on a diet of limited face time with staff, and scheduling and phone calls were diverted through Kelly first. So Trump instead started calling people at night and, bit by bit, doing and saying whatever he wanted. Kelly has now reportedly threatened to quit multiple times.
The formidable FBI Director James Comey found out he had been fired through a television report. His new memoir seems preachy, whiny and self-justifying — and includes petty, mean-girl hits on Trump. Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former Exxon executive who had already himself been marginalized and diminished, was reportedly on the toilet when he found out he’d been cashiered.
These indignities were the crass work of an uncouth man. But voters eschewed elegance because, they calculated, a blunt and even predatory individual is what the country needed at this moment. A man who, Kim, Xi, Khamenei and Putin will all suspect, might just be brutal and dark enough to stand his ground against them and counter their own ruthless agendas.
Veteran White House reporter Keith Koffler is the editor of the website White House Dossier.