There is no reason to worry about Tuesday’s Donald Trump-Kim Jong Un summit.
First off, we know that President Trump has not prepared, because he did not feel that he needed to prepare. Preparation is for hemorrhoid sufferers. “It’s about the attitude,” Trump has said publicly.
Trump is known for his attitude, primarily the confidence that allows him to feel that he has a firm grasp of the facts all the time, regardless of what the facts are or whether what he has in his grip is in fact a dead rat wrapped in damp paper towels and not a fact at all. Nothing compares to the boundless, unruffled confidence of someone who knows so little about a subject that he cannot even tell that what he is saying is wrong. This is why Trump has always been so successful on the international stage, or if he has not, he has not noticed.
Why prepare for this summit? Why break the habit of a lifetime? Any information he learned would just push out other tidbits, like the lyrics to that snake poem-song he likes to recite at rallies or Tiffany’s name. It is fine to treat this summit with North Korea, a hostile regime in possession of nuclear weapons, the way you usually treat a group PowerPoint presentation about the water cycle.
Another reason to feel confident about this meeting is that Trump possesses a rare superpower. That superpower is not the United States, which erodes in status each day so much that it has to bumble ham-fistedly around the international stage under the guidance of an ergonomic inflatable chair-ball that has gotten loose and is rampaging through the office destroying everything in its path, but a magical gift that transcends the laws of biology: Trump will touch Leader Kim’s hand and instantly understand how the summit will go.
“Within the first minute, I’ll know. My touch, my feel — that’s what I do,” said Trump. Yes, Trump can feel how people are by touching them. That is why he is always gripping European leaders so firmly. Trump literally possesses this ability, which is a real thing that people can have, not a half-baked concept for a superpower that is sitting deep in the slush pile at Vertigo. He will reach out and touch Kim and he will suddenly understand everything, almost like Professor X, but without any of the time wasted in mentoring teens.
Does Trump know what the objectives of this meeting are? Probably, right? I would say probably. But that’s good enough.
And look, so what if I cannot convincingly state that there will not be a point during this summit where the conversation devolves into Trump retelling the story of his electoral college victory to a confused North Korean leader? Remember when Trump went to a meeting with FEMA about hurricane preparedness and spent a large chunk of the meeting talking about his approval rating, using steam and magnets to launch planes off of aircraft carriers, and suggesting that in Texas, people had gone out in boats to watch the hurricane come in? Or when he asked Justin Trudeau if Canada had burned the White House down in the 19th century and suggested that if it had that was probably a good reason for our current policy, and we decided it was a joke because the alternative was too terrifying to contemplate?
As Trump so perfectly put it, “It’s an interesting journey. It’s called the land of the unknown — who knows? We’ll maybe make a deal. Maybe not. As I say to everybody, are you going to make a deal? Maybe and maybe not. Who knows?” Exactly. It is possible that after this display Kim will observe that our lives are in the hands of this ill-informed wind tunnel full of scraps of old copies of Fortune and decide we are more to be pitied than threatened. That could happen! Anything can happen.
Another reason to feel good about the North Korean summit is that, after all, we have lived a long, full life. The world holds few further delights for us. We have seen all that it has to offer: brass fixtures and leopard carpets and long-haired women. We have seen large private planes and small private planes. We have eaten well-cooked steak everywhere around the earth. We have risen early to watch “Fox & Friends” while the sun rose behind us all over the globe. There is nothing here for us. So even if the summit backfires, we will be fine.
It is possible I am confusing us with someone else.