President Trump is well known for his incendiary tweets, and him having gone to Asia this week didn’t stem the flow of them.
He’s been in Asia this week for the express purpose of bolstering the West’s defenses against North Korea, but the fact that his own incessant, belligerent rhetoric is exacerbating that problem seems to be lost on him. (The absolute worst case scenario is that Trump is aware of the implication of his rhetoric and he just doesn’t care.)
His chief of staff, the retired General and former Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, has now responded to the president’s latest round of angry tweeting directed at North Korea, attempting to completely dismiss the potentially world shattering significance of Trump’s rhetoric.
Trump, over the weekend, tweeted a suggestion that the dictator of North Korea is “short and fat,” adding that he’s trying to be Kim Jong-Un’s “friend,” but the dictator hasn’t been receptive to his claimed advances.
From Vietnam, Trump wrote:
‘Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me “old,” when I would NEVER call him “short and fat?” Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!’
That’s just literally not how any of this works — that’s not how the president of the United States is supposed to conduct themselves.
This isn’t just a matter of decorum either; the point isn’t that it’s bad for Trump to “speak his mind,” the point is that he never cares enough about the implications of his words to shut his mind off. If he wants to say something, like a petulant child, he’s going to say it, no matter what the cost — as we can see with this tweet.
North Korea is developing a nuclear weapon; the country’s military capabilities are increasingly able to put the lives of millions of people in danger. Those in danger from a potential war with North Korea include the people of South Korea, Japan, and the United States — and yet, Trump treats the situation with as much seriousness as schoolyard politics.
Ask John Kelly and there is no reason to be concerned with the president tweeting threats at a belligerent, nuclear-armed state.
As the Los Angeles Times reports, at a news conference this week in Vietnam, Kelly told reporters that he doesn’t concern himself with Trump’s tweets, which he described by saying that they “are what they are.”
He told reporters:
‘Someone, I read the other day, said we all just react to the tweets. We don’t. I don’t. I don’t allow the staff to. We know what we’re doing. Believe it or not, I do not follow the tweets. I find out about them… But for our purposes, my purpose, is we make sure the president is briefed up on what he’s about to do.’
Adding an answer to the question of whether or not Trump’s tweets factor into the development of policy inside the Trump Administration, Kelly said, “We develop policy in the normal traditional staff way.”
Trump has verbally attacked North Korea numerous times in the past, starting with remarks in August in which he asserted that, if given the opportunity, the U.S. would make “fire and fury” rain down upon the North Koreans.
The back and forth has only gotten more intense from there.
Trump, around the time of this year’s UN General Assembly, tweeted a message reading:
‘Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!’
The North Koreans asserted at one point that they took that declaration from the president as a declaration of war.
Even in the face of all of this, the president has not let up in his rhetoric — and John Kelly thinks there’s no reason to be concerned.
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