At first blush, this may sound like very good news. But is it?
North Korea has negotiated rollbacks of its nuclear program with many previous administrations, and each time the dictatorship reneged on those agreements. Kim undoubtedly thinks he can play Trump, who is easily fooled by flattery and pomp.
This aside, by yesterday, there were signs the White House was already stepping on its own announcement with the news (link here) that the effort was dissolving in confusion. Given how thin actual diplomacy experience in the Trump administration, this is no surprise.
Shortly after the initial announcement, Trump's apologists were already comparing the intial step toward a meeting as on the same scale as Richard Nixon's historic trip to China. A first step a journey does not make. John Dean, who served as White House Counsel in the Nixon administration, responded: "Trump is playing way out of his league and the world knows it. Kim knows it." (Source here.)
Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post saw the chance of anything positive coming out of this as quite remote in her assessment yesterday (link here). She writes: "Kim has observed the autocratic leaders of Russia, China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines play Trump like a fiddle. The president’s enormous ego makes him easy prey for experienced flatterers."
She then quotes Eliot Cohen, a senior State Department official in the George W. Bush administration: "He’s such an easy mark. Particularly for world class thugs — he’s just a petty grifter who thinks he’s in their class."
Few except Trump's die-hard supporters seem to think anything positive will come out of this. That's a sorry commentary on our times, where a majority of Americans have such a low opinion of their President that they presume he'll bungle this unless proven otherwise.
Nonetheless, Trump will almost certainly play this as a major victory if the meeting actually occurs, even if nothing of substance is achieved. Given his disconnect from reality and his constent deceit, it's difficult to see how it could be any other way.