President Trump’s bizarre love/hate relationship with brutal North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is one of those myriad offenses that Republicans would have lost their minds over if Obama had engaged in but which they are all too happy to overlook when this president does it. Trump has repeatedly praised the autocrat, even as the Korean people struggle to survive in a hellish totalitarian state.
Earlier today at the G7, Trump’s rhetoric about Kim took its latest odd turn. While speaking at a press event with French President Emmanuel Macron, Trump said that First Lady Melania has “gotten to know Kim Jong-un.”
“I also say that, by the way, with respect to North Korea. Kim Jong-Un, who I’ve gotten to know extremely well, the first lady has gotten to know Kim Jong-Un and I think she would agree with me, he is a man with a country that has tremendous potential,” the president said according to The Daily Mail.
The obvious problem with this claim is that the First Lady has never actually met the North Korean potentate. As a reporter for CNN pointed out, this fact did not seem to elude Macron, who hit the American president with a slightly confused, slightly amused look.
Macron’s expression as Trump pivots from talking about Iran’s potential to talking about North Korea and how well Melania and Kim Jong Un got along. pic.twitter.com/oEZBn7hGBA
— Rebecca Ballhaus (@rebeccaballhaus) August 26, 2019
It’s worth mentioning that even if the First Lady had met Kim Jong-un it’s highly unlikely she would have been able to parse the version of himself he presents to the world from the real him, which is to say the difference between the “Glorious Leader” persona and the rotund 35-year-old who in the past allegedly fed his uncle to ravenous dogs and ordered musicians shot to pieces with anti-aircraft guns. Melania would be totally out of her depths trying to understand a ruthless man like Kim. A savvy diplomat she is not.
Many were confused by the president’s claim, interpreting it as a patently false claim that the First Lady has met Kim personally. To combat this reasonable reading of the comments, the administration’s spin machine has already whirred to life and White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham has offered a frankly laughable explanation.
Apparently, they want us to believe that Trump has told Melania so much about Kim in private that she feels like she knows personally him. The idea is absurd since Donald Trump himself barely knows Kim. Beyond having met him a small handful of times and blasting tweets at him, he’s had few substantive interactions with the dictator. Once again, we see this president engaged in a heady mix of delusion and braggadocio.
— Abby D. Phillip (@abbydphillip) August 26, 2019
there we have it: Melania understands Kim Jong Un vicariously through her husband https://t.co/rPV0H0LgCU
— John Hudson (@John_Hudson) August 26, 2019
Rob Haffey is a writer, filmmaker, and winner of the ScreenCraft Writing Fellowship. He is a graduate of Drexel University.