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Trump Confesses Again: His Trade War Screwed His North Korea Talks

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Let's start with two general observations about Trump and his character. First, Trump always makes things worse for Trump. Always. And second, he tends to confess to horrible things without realizing he's confessing. Both glitches were on display Friday when the president, now in serious legal jeopardy as the consequence of at least four different investigations, tried to shift focus over to his kneejerk dealings with North Korea and Kim Jong-un.

Trump wrote in tweet form on Friday:

I have asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to go to North Korea, at this time, because I feel we are not making sufficient progress with respect to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula...Additionally, because of our much tougher Trading stance with China, I do not believe they are helping with the process of denuclearization as they once were (despite the UN Sanctions which are in place)...Secretary Pompeo looks forward to going to North Korea in the near future, most likely after our Trading relationship with China is resolved. In the meantime I would like to send my warmest regards and respect to Chairman Kim. I look forward to seeing him soon!

Let's focus on this section: "Additionally, because of our much tougher Trading stance with China, I do not believe they are helping with the process of denuclearization as they once were (despite the UN Sanctions which are in place)."

This is Trump confessing again. And it's yet another example of Trump making things worse for Trump. What he's confessing to here is that his whimsical trade war of choice totally screwed his whimsical attempt to "solve" North Korea. In the middle of trying (and never succeeding) to get Kim to end his nuclear program, Trump launched this destructive, foolish and completely unnecessary trade war. Both fronts require China's involvement but -- shocker! -- you can't make China the enemy in the trade war while also expecting China to apply pressure against Kim.

Once again, Trump and his Red Hats are learning that this transactional run-government-like-a-business experiment is a failure. To succeed in international diplomacy, you have to see the entire board -- all of the moving parts, and how the gears might lock together or grind to a halt once you set a policy into motion. China, in this case, needed to be an ally for one thing to work, but Trump made China an enemy. Now, neither the trade war nor the North Korea talks are working. A child could see that one coming, but Trump failed. Spectacularly.

The only advantage Trump enjoys is that he can simply tell his loyalists that everything's great, and they'll believe him. They're not astute or inquisitive enough to understand the subtle and not-so-subtle aspects of playing on the world stage. The "art of the deal" guy, it turns out, is terrible at cutting deals. Actually, he might be passable in real estate, but real estate deals, even in the hyper-competitive and cutthroat world of New York real estate, can't prepare anyone for dealing with cultural differences between the U.S. and China and North Korea. Hell, it didn't even prepare Trump for the no-brainer concept of not pissing off China when we need China to help us elsewhere.

What did Trump think? Did he seriously believe he could go in and shmooze the North Koreans with his clown makeup, hair helmet and shitty TJ Maxx suits and walk away with a genuine deal? Presidents with lightyears more experience than Trump haven't been able to crack that nut. What the experts know and which Trump still fails to grasp is that international relations is a matter of small moves, delicate balances and, generally, avoiding blowback. Convincing Gary Busey and Meat Loaf to play nice on a game show doesn't qualify as experience along these lines. And this is what happens when incompetence is allowed to flourish.

The legal hell that's imploding Trump's world this week might actually save Trump from additionally sparking an international crisis, heaping more awfulness on top of his criminality. He just needs to resign and be done with all of it.