After a long, agonizing wait (especially agonizing for cable news reporters who had to fill many hours with nothing to say while waiting for it), a plane touched down around 2 a.m. at Andrews Air Force base outside Washington, D.C., carrying Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and three Korean-Americans who had been held captive in North Korea.
President Trump greeted the returning Americans and said, “These are great people. Frankly, we didn't think this was going to happen, but it did. It was important to get these people out. This is a special night for these three really great people.” He also praised North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for releasing them (without bringing up who was responsible for unjustly arresting them in the first place, or as that's known in DC, "diplomacy") and said he believes Kim “really wants to do something” about bringing North Korea “into the real world.”
Trump said the nuclear summit time and place are now set, adding, “We're starting off on a new footing. I really think we have a very good chance of doing something very meaningful, and if anybody would've said that five years ago, 10 years ago, even a year ago, you would've said, 'That's not possible.' 'My proudest achievement will be when we denuclearize that entire [Korean] peninsula.”
I sent a joking tweet this morning that there will be a new journalism award in 2018: the Pulitzer Prize for “Most Creative Way to Spin Trump Rescuing Three Americans from North Korea as a Bad Thing.” Like all good jokes, it’s just the truth told sideways. And the New York Times has already tossed its hat into the ring for that prize, even before the prisoners made it back to US soil.
The Times story on Trump’s announcement that he was pulling out of Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran was snottily headlined, “At a Key Moment, Trump’s Top Diplomat Is Again Thousands of Miles Away.” It slammed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for not being in Washington to answer calls from any European leaders who might get the vapors at the news. Now, the Times knew that Pompeo was doing something reasonably important – he was “thousands of miles away” because he was setting up a denuclearization summit with North Korea and freeing three American prisoners. They also knew that if anyone wanted to reach him, he has a cell phone – but they harrumphed that calls are sometimes dropped when he’s on his plane.
Well, I never! The very idea! Freeing Americans from forced labor prisons and ridding the world of nukes in the hands of a dangerous dictator pale before the importance of preventing some ticked-off Europeans from having to call back a second time! Why, just imagine the torture they might go through if they don’t have “Redial” buttons on their phones.
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