A “talented” guy who “love his country very much.”
That was U.S. President Donald Trump referring to an ex–sparring partner, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at a press conference on Tuesday, after a face-to-face meeting from which Trump emerged short on detail but long on compliments. For the North Korean autocrat.
Once people got past the wow factor of the historic meeting, there was some triggering of negative reactions, including from a former Republican congressman:
Trump on Kim: “A talented man who loves his country very much. An honor to meet him.”
For the record of history, never before has a U.S. President spoken this way of a dictator accused of crimes against his own people.
— David Jolly (@DavidJollyFL) June 12, 2018
Tuesday morning Singapore time started off with Trump talking about the “terrific relationship” he expected to have with Kim and how “honored” he was to meet him, after the two greeted each other like long-lost friends, making those “Little Rocket Man” and “Dotard” comments look like ancient history. “Honored” was a word that rattled some:
Pres. Trump says he’s honored to meet with Kim Jong Un in Singapore. “We’re gonna have a great discussion, and I think tremendous success.” https://t.co/1VnaYeIvzF #TrumpKimSummit pic.twitter.com/p41qlep6Bs
— ABC News (@ABC) June 12, 2018
And that “talented” comment came up at a photo op with Kim, when Trump was asked what he had learned about the North Korean leader and what was most surprising. His response: “Great personality, and very smart. … I learned he’s a very talented man. I also learned that he loves his country very much.”
In response, some re-shared a December 2017 report by the International Bar Association that described, in gruesome detail, life and death in a North Korean gulag.
Trump on Kim:”I learned he was a talented man. I also learned he loves his country very much.”
— Joanna Hong (@JoannaH_ng) June 12, 2018
Later, at a lengthy post-meeting press conference (see the full transcript), additional shiny happy comments trickled from Trump’s lips. The first question came from a reporter who asked Trump how he could use “talented” to describe someone who has killed family members, starved his people and whose actions have been viewed as leading to the death of American college student Otto Warmbier.
“Well, he is very talented. Anybody that takes over a situation like he did at 26 years of age and is able to run it and run it tough. I don’t say he was nice or say anything about it. He ran it. Few people at that age — you can take 1 out of 10,000 could [do it],” said Trump of Kim.
He then went on to say that Warmbier’s death was “not in vain” and had a lot to do with the bilateral summit’s happening, but the “run it and run it tough” comment had only highlighted the regime’s taking and treatment of political prisoners, and for many the “talented” remained an issue.
— Erin Wafer Hawley (@ErinWaferHawley) June 12, 2018
Later on, Trump was able to add in one more nice thing about Kim, this time on how beloved the man is at home, never mind the conclusions of human-rights watchdogs and advocates. “His country does love him,” he told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview. “His people, you see the fervor. They have a great fervor.”
Not all F words mean the same. Fervor is Not same as Fearful. The correct sentence would be “His people, you see the fear. They have great fear.”
— Odi.Q (@TcOdeta) June 12, 2018
Of course, where there are critics, there are also those giving Trump an “A” for effort:
I might not like everything President Trump says and does, but credit where credit is due, his successful talks with Kim Jong Un are a welcome step towards the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. The region needs a more stable and prosperous future. #TrumpKimSummit pic.twitter.com/dbiA4BmJZm
— Cllr Joe Porter 🇬🇧 (@JoePorterUK) June 12, 2018