Happy Friday! We’re finally back to our usual format today, so join Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America to wrap up the week in style. First, they nod along as Vice President Mike Pence asks the media why they suddenly don’t care about foreign meddling in the 2016 campaign now that President Trump wants some answers. They also feel ill as Golden State Coach Steve Kerr suggests an absurd moral equivalence between the U.S. and China. And they have fun with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard threatening to boycott the Democratic presidential debate she just qualified for.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are happy to see Vice President Pence laud our NATO partners for contributing more to the common defense and building greater cohesion while also calling out Turkey for its troubling embrace of Russia and a more Islamist outlook on the world. They also welcome the March jobs report, which shows greater gains than expected and is a major improvement from February. And they discuss West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin openly longing to run for governor in 2020.
Daniel Foster of National Review Online and Greg Corombos of Radio America get a kick out of reports that Elizabeth Warren and her team are still trying to do damage control over her DNA stunt. They also unload on the mainstream media for insisting that every kind word said Wednesday about the late George H.W. Bush was somehow an obvious rebuke of President Trump. And they react to news that Trump is at least contemplating a change in running mates for 2020.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are thrilled to hear House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi state she will run for Speaker of the House if Democrats win back the majority. It’s hard to imagine a better talking point for GOP candidates. They also cringe as Vice President Mike Pence gives a shout out to former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio during a visit to Arizona, noting Arpaio’s controversial record and how he would be a sure-fire loser if nominated for the U.S. Senate. And they’re not exactly shocked to learn that Donald Trump dictated the glowing, over-the-top letter released by his doctor in the 2016 campaign that vowed he would be the healthiest person ever to be president of the United States.
Alexandra DeSanctis of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America cheer Vice President Pence for going to North Dakota and hammering Sen. Heidi Heitkamp for her liberal votes on health care, taxes, abortion, energy and more – in a sign the Republicans are getting on message early in the states with the best pickup opportunities. They also take aim at Heitkamp’s attempt to look strong on the second amendment after the senator makes a pathetic attempt to liken passion for gun rights similar to passion for abortion rights. And they slam “Fire and Fury” author Michael Wolff, who is now admitting he is an observer rather than a journalist and says his job “has nothing to do with the truth.”
North Korea expert Gordon Chang is not surprised the western media swooned over Kim Jong-un’s sister at the start of the Olympics in Pyongcheong but he says this “political warfare” won’t change the big picture very much, unless the South Korean president acts on his desire to undermine U.S. policy.
Over the weekend, media outlets from CNN and Reuters to the Washington Post and the New York Times lavished praise on Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, for her performance in South Korea. CNN said she was stealing the show. The Washington Post compared her to Ivanka Trump. Reuters and the New York Times said her wordless smiles outflanked Vice President Mike Pence in diplomatic effectiveness.
While the coverage appalled Americans and others familiar with the gulags and murderous repression of the Kim regime, Chang was not surprised Kim got such positive coverage.
“North Koreans may rank last in almost in almost every metric when it comes to their miserable state, but they are number one in one category and that is political warfare. They are masters at getting good publicity, so we shouldn’t be surprised that they were able to do it this time,” said Chang.
He says the United States needs to catch up in the messaging department.
“The United States has a great message, but we are not good at political warfare, especially since the end of the Cold War. What we need to do is to get our message out. North Koreans are very good at getting their message out,” said Chang.
Chang says North Korea has two objectives with this diplomatic charm offensive. The long term goal of conquering South Korea remains unchanged, but he says the Trump administration approach to the regime is creating some major, more immediate problems.
“I think [North Korea] has looked at the sanctions regime that has been put together by the Trump administration. You have UN sanctions. You have U.S. sanctions. Basically North Korea needs relief. There’s anecdotal evidence suggesting that the regime is starting to have real problems because of the lack of money. So Kim is saying to South Korea, ‘Give me some cash,'” said Chang.
But for all the headlines about Kim outflanking Pence in South Korea, Chang says Pence did a very good job of showing the South Korean people that he stood with North Korean defectors. He also visited a memorial for South Korean sailors murdered by North Korea in 2010.
Also, according to the Washington Post, Pence struck a deal with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, with the U.S. agreeing to hold talks with North Korea without preconditions and South Korea agreeing not to send aid to North Korea.
While the latter part of the agreement seems obvious in the U.S., Chang says it’s a major concession for Moon, who is quite possibly the most far left president in South Korean history.
“Moon Jae-in is a Korean nationalist. He believes in one Korea. So President Moon is going to try to do all those things to knit the two Koreas together,” said Chang.
The good news for the U.S. is that a growing number of South Koreans do not share Moon’s approach and are not impressed with the North Korean charm campaign.
“It’s not working among the conservatives who just abhor North Korea. But it’s also not working among a critical group, and that is voters in their twenties. Voters in their twenties have by and large become South Korean nationalists, who believe their society is separate and apart from North Korea,” said Chang.
Moon’s desire to “knit the two Koreas together” was on full display during the opening ceremonies on Friday. Some Americans were frustrated that no mention was made of the sacrifice made by Americans and others in the Korean War, which set the stage for South Korea being free and prosperous, while their North Korean neighbors are impoverished and enslaved.
“In a country led by Moon Jae-in, who does want to see one Korea, who believes in a Korea separate and apart from everybody else, that’s not too much of a surprise. It does look like we were isolated but that’s the way that Moon views the world and we’ve got to get used to it.
“That means the United States has to talk to a critical audience. and that is South Korean voters, to make sure they hem in Moon Jae-in,” added Chang.
He says Moon is a “daily struggle” for the Trump administration’s effort to rein in North Korea.
“Moon Jae-in, if left to his own devices, would do things to undermine the alliance with the United States,” said Chang.
“I think that he would be willing to adopt a sunshine policy, in other words indefinite, unconditional aid to the North Koreans. Certainly that would undermine the maximum pressure campaign of President Trump at the United Nations Security Council,” said Chang.
However, Chang says Pence and other U.S. officials have done a good job of preventing Moon from providing money to North Korea. He says the best case, and likely, scenario is that all this political warfare will accomplish very little.
“I’m going to be an optimist and say they’re pretty much going to be the same way they were before the Olympics. The reason I’m saying optimist is because I don’t think there will be the conditions under which Moon can reach out to the North. I think the North will engage the South Koreans, but they’ll also commit provocations that’ll make it very difficult for Moon to have all these reconciliation moves.
“I think we’ll be pretty much where we were before and that is South Korea, reluctantly but nonetheless, standing with us against North Korea,” said Chang.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are appalled as the liberals on “The View” and elsewhere blast Vice President Pence for not standing as the joint Korean Olympic team entered the opening ceremonies, but they are grateful that many on the left are allowing America to see that they actually hate the Trump administration far more than they hate one of the most repressive and brutal Communist regimes the world has ever seen. They also blast the liberal media for largely ignoring that President Trump’s daughter-in-law had to go to the hospital after opening an envelope with white powder. And they greatly enjoy learning that the Iranians are very worried that western nations are spying on their nuclear activities with lizards.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America breathe a sigh of relief as the U.S. Army announces it will scrap a rule that would allow waivers for people dealing with depression, bipolar disorder or self-mutilation to apply to serve. They also slam Minnesota Sen. Al Franken after one of his colleagues on a 2006 USO tour accuses Franken of a forced kiss and provides a photo of him groping her while she is asleep. And they respond bluntly to a New York Times op-ed from a Christianity Today writer who thinks the Mike Pence policy of a man never being along with a woman other than his wife is a damaging to women’s careers and is actually a “sanctified cousin” to “Weinstein-ian behavior.
David French of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America start the week with a whole menu of crazy martinis. They rip CNN and other social justice types for declaring President Trump’s Columbus Day statement insufficient because he didn’t mention the suffering that the explorers inflicted upon the indigenous people who were already adept at slaughtering each other. They’re also staggered as California enacts one law to criminalize the use of pronouns that conflict with a person’s stated gender identity and another law that no longer makes it a felony to expose a partner to HIV without telling them. And they react to Vice President Pence leaving Sunday’s Colts-49’ers game after some 49’ers knelt during the national anthem and President Trump’s tweetstorm against Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America welcome research from a liberal expert showing that no policy pushed by gun control advocates would likely stop previous or future mass shootings and that focusing on people instead of weapons is likely a better approach. They also slam Republican Pennsylvania Rep. Tim Murphy for posing as pro-life while encouraging his supposedly pregnant mistress to get an abortion and urge him to leave office as soon as possible. And they react to Mike Pence’s chief of staff suggesting it was time for a purge of Republicans who aren’t sufficiently loyal to Pence and President Trump.