President Trump’s meeting has rekindled his decades-long admiration for dictators. The Washington Post reports that Trump privately expressed admiration for the friendly treatment Kim Jong-un gets from North Korean state television. “At one point, after watching North Korean television, which is entirely state-run, the president talked about how positive the female North Korean news anchor was toward Kim,” the Post notes.
In his public remarks, Trump insisted North Koreans “love” their dictator, as shown by the displays of “fervor” — which they must perform on pain of arrest. He likewise praised Kim’s rule for being “tough,” one of Trump’s favorite compliments. “Anybody that takes over a situation like he did at 26 years of age and is able to run it and run it tough,” Trump said. “I don’t say he was nice or say anything about it. He ran it, few people at that age — you could take one out of 10,000 could not do it.”
Speaking this morning with Fox & Friends, his own version of North Korean television, Trump explained why he would like to bring Kim Jong-un to the White House: “He’s the head of the country, and I mean he’s the strong head. He speaks and his people sit up in attention. I want my people to do the same.”
While saying this, Trump gestured to the building behind him, implying that Trump meant his staff, not the entire country. Even by this more generous reading, Trump is waxing enthusiastic once again for the governing style of the world’s most ruthless dictators. Kim’s staff treats him with displays of extravagant deference because any member of his ruling circle he suspects of disloyalty will be brutally executed.
Trump’s ultimate insult is “weak.” By calling him “strong,” Kim received his ultimate compliment.