Kim Jong Un Sends A Message To Trump On Denuclearization

In his annual message, Kim Jong Un sent a message to President Trump on denuclearization and the future of the Korean Peninsula.

One year ago, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gave a New Year’s Day address that appeared to signal the beginning of a new era on the Korean Peninsula. In that speech, Kim appeared to extend an olive branch to the Republic of Korea.  For the most part the speech was filled with broad generalities regarding a more peaceful relationship with the Republic of Korea, however, Kim was specific regarding at least some of what he had in mind. This included small items such as North Korean participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics  It was based on this speech that we saw the first joint talks between the two nations in nearly a decade.  This eventually led to the surprise announcement that President Trump had accepted an invitation to meet with Kim at some point during this year, a summit meeting at the Demilitarized Zone between Kim Jong Un and South Korean Moon Jae In that has been followed up by several similar meetings between the two.

All of this led in June to the historic meeting between Kim and President Trump that the Administration and the North Koreans both hyped as a significant development even though it was clearly little more than a photo opportunity in which the two parties shook hands for the camera and signed off on a statement that ended up meaning far less than met the eye. Despite that, the President claimed that North Korea was no longer a nuclear threat to the United States, the reality of what has actually occurred is far more complicated. On the positive side, I suppose, there’s the fact that the two nations are continuing to meet with each other rather than hurl heated rhetoric at each other via the DPRK’s state television network and the President’s Twitter feed. As Winston Churchill once put it, it is better to jaw-jaw than to war-war. The main forum for those meetings has been discussions between Secretary of State Pompeo and Kim Yong Chol, a General who serves as the Vice Chairman of the DPRK’s Communist Party, acting as the chief North Korean diplomat, although the North Koreans have complained about what they call a “gangster-like” attitude among Americans. Additionally, as agreed at the meeting in Singapore, the North Koreans have turned over the suspected remains of more than 100 American and other soldiers who were killed during the Korean War and there have already been some successful identifications made from those remains.

When you look at the DPRK’s actions since the summit, though, it’s clear that there was not nearly as much progress as the Administration would like the public to believe. Right off the bat, for example, it became clear that there was no agreement on the part of the North Koreans to “denuclearize” in the manner that the United States understands it. Within weeks after the summit, for example, it was reported that North Korea was increasing production of the fuel needed to make additional nuclear weapons and that it was concealing the existence of ongoing nuclear weapons research at secret facilities well hidden from both surveillance and, most likely, the ability of the United States to take the sites out in a military strike. Additionally, it became apparent in the days after the summit that the much-publicized destruction of the DPRK’s primary nuclear weapons test site, a much-hyped pre-summit event that was witnessed by American and other international journalists was much less than met the eye and that the site could easily be rebuilt if needed in the future. Weeks later, we learned that the DPRK had also begun work on the construction of new ballistic missiles at yet another secret site.

As we sit here nearly six months since the summit, then, it is obvious that the reality of what had been accomplished at the summit did not meet the rhetoric. The actions that the DPRK as engaged in are not what one would expect from a nation that had agreed to “denuclearization” in the sense of giving up their existing nuclear weapons program. Additionally, analysts who have seen satellite images say that the DPRK has made a second large nuclear reactor operational. This type of reactor is capable of making plutonium which is, of course, one of the main fuels used in the production of nuclear weapons. This new reactor can reportedly make four times as much plutonium as North Korea’s current reactor, which has been the source for the plutonium needed for its nuclear arsenal to date.

Given all of that it’s perhaps not surprising that Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s Day message this year was much different:

Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, said Tuesday that he was willing to have a second summit meeting with President Trump, but he paired the offer with a threat that if international sanctions against his country were not lifted, the North would “have no choice” but to return to nuclear confrontation.

“I am willing to meet the United States president at any time for the betterment of our international community,” Mr. Kim said in his New Year’s Day speech, broadcast on North Korea’s state-run television. “However, if the United States does not keep its promise in our international community and misinterprets our patience and intention and continues with the sanctions, then we have no choice for the sake of our national interest and peace of the Korean Peninsula but to come up with new initiatives and new measures.”

Wearing a suit and tie and sitting in an overstuffed leather armchair in a book-lined room, Mr. Kim offered a largely motivational speech about the need to strengthen the North Korean economy. But he took the opportunity to reiterate a demand that South Korea cease all military drills with “other foreign sources.”

“Those should be completely stopped,” Mr. Kim said. “That is our stance.”

There were sparse direct references in the speech to denuclearization. But Mr. Kim said the country would not be willing to take further steps toward removing its nuclear weapons unless the United States reciprocated.

“The statements and agreements after the summit with the United States were that we are going toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and that is my resolute commitment,” he said. “We will not make nuclear weapons and we will not proliferate nuclear weapons, and I have said this, and I will say this again now.

“If the United States can show corresponding measures, the relationship between the two countries will, through many processes, accelerate for the better. But if the counterpart continues with its past habits, it won’t be good, but I hope they stop this.”

Mr. Kim also indicated that the North wanted a peace declaration formally ending the Korean War.

In declaring that he would not make nuclear weapons, Mr. Kim was going further than anything he said at his summit meeting with Mr. Trump in Singapore in June. North Korea made no explicit promise to “freeze” its program, and American intelligence officials have said that they believe North Korea has continued to produce the fuel for nuclear weapons — and likely the weapons themselves.

The distinction is a relatively minor one, because once the fuel is produced, fashioning it into weapons is no longer much of a challenge, as the North has proved through a series of nuclear tests that ended 13 months ago.

(…)

Mr. Kim’s demand that the United States begin to lift sanctions before North Korea takes any steps toward dismantling its nuclear infrastructure is essentially a return to the state of affairs when Mr. Trump took office early in 2017.

Mr. Trump entered the White House vowing he would not repeat the mistakes of his predecessors, who lifted some sanctions. Mr. Trump and his aides said the North would have to dismantle everything first and trust that sanctions would be lifted later.

Since the Singapore meeting, Mr. Trump has occasionally seemed to waver on the question of lifting some sanctions before the North dismantles its facilities and gives up its weapons and missiles. Now, with Mr. Kim’s demand, he must decide whether to back down — and take steps similar to those of his predecessors.

Analysts noted that Mr. Kim did not specify what exactly he wanted the Trump administration to do but was suggesting that removing some sanctions and moving toward a formal peace declaration to end the Korean War might prod the North to take certain steps toward denuclearization.

“Previous public and private comments from Kim and other North Korean officials suggest they would be willing to decommission the Yongbyon nuclear complex under expert supervision,” said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, referring to a plutonium reactor, spent fuel reprocessing facility and uranium enrichment plant.

At the root of all of this, of course, is the fact that the United States and North Korea do not mean the same thing when they use the term “denuclearization.” To summarize those differences, when the United States talks about “denuclearization,” it is principally referring to the idea that the goal of these current talks, indeed perhaps the only goal, is for the DPRK to give up its nuclear weapons, its weapons research program, and its ballistic missile program. Leaving aside the fact that the regime in Pyongyang is unlikely to do this simply because the existence of the nuclear arsenal they do have is perhaps the best deterrent available to guarantee the survival of the regime, this stands in stark contrast to what the North Koreans mean when they talk about “denuclearization.” For them, it means the removal of all American troops from South Korea if not the entire region, including Japan, and the lifting of the so-called nuclear umbrella that the United States has in place which essentially reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to any attack on its allies in Seoul, Tokyo, or elsewhere in the region. The North Koreans made this clear just a few weeks ago when the DPRK made clear that denuclearization is a non-starter unless the United States meets demands it clearly isn’t going to agree to regarding the status of American forces not only on the Korean Peninsula but elsewhere in the Pacific.

In his analysis of Kim’s New Year’s Day statement, New York Times reporter David Sanger notes that this essentially puts the Administration back at square one when comes to North Korea:

Nearly two years into his presidency and more than six months after his historic summit meeting with Kim Jong-un of North Korea, President Trump finds himself essentially back where he was at the beginning in achieving the ambitious goal of getting Mr. Kim to relinquish his nuclear arsenal.

That was the essential message of Mr. Kim’s annual New Year’s televised speech, where he reiterated that international sanctions must be lifted before North Korea will give up a single weapon, dismantle a single missile site or stop producing nuclear material.

The list of recent North Korean demands was a clear indicator of how the summit meeting in Singapore last June altered the optics of the relationship more than the reality. Those demands were very familiar from past confrontations: that all joint military training between the United States and South Korea be stopped, that American nuclear and military capability within easy reach of the North be withdrawn, and that a peace treaty ending the Korean War be completed.

“It’s fair to say that not much has changed, although we now have more clarity regarding North Korea’s bottom line,” Evans J.R. Revere, a veteran American diplomat and former president of the Korea Society, wrote in an email.

(…)

By some measures there has been modest progress. It has been 13 months since the North tested a nuclear weapon or a long-range missile, a change that Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo cite as the first fruits of what some officials now concede will be a long diplomatic push.

Relations between the two Koreas are warming, though there is considerable evidence that Mr. Kim sees his outreach to President Moon Jae-in of South Korea as a way to split the United States from its longtime ally.

But Mr. Trump’s strategic goal, from the moment he vowed to “solve” the North Korea problem rather than repeat the mistakes of past presidents, has been to end the North Korean nuclear and missile threat, not suspend it in place.

Mr. Trump dispatched his first secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson, to Seoul in March 2017 to declare that a mere nuclear freeze would not be enough. Back then, Mr. Tillerson declared there would be no negotiations, and certainly no lifting of sanctions, until the North’s dismantling had begun. A nuclear freeze would essentially enshrine “a comprehensive set of capabilities,” he argued.

The decision Mr. Trump must make now is whether to backtrack on the objective of zero North Korean nuclear weapons even if that means accepting the North as a nuclear-armed state, as the United States has done with Pakistan, India and Israel.

Mr. Kim’s speech seemed infused with a sense that Mr. Trump is now facing that critical choice — one the president has never talked about publicly — at a moment of considerable internal disarray, especially at the Pentagon.

“Kim seems to be saying outright that his patience is running thin at the continued insistence on unilateral disarmament,” Vipin Narang, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who follows North Korea closely, wrote in an email. “The stick was the threat to go down a ‘new path’ if the U.S. doesn’t reciprocate.”

As I have said before, there are things that could be accomplished if both the United States and North Korea approached these negotiations realistically. Tensions on the Korean peninsula, which have been on a razor’s edge since the end of the Korean War and ramped up significantly last year during the tit-for-tat exchanges that took place between President Trump and the North Korean leader, have calmed down significantly this year and making that more permanent would be a good thing. Additionally, more formal negotiations aimed at bringing the Korean War to a formal end should be pursued, as should agreements designed to ease the conventional arms standoff across the Demilitarized Zone. However, as I have noted before (see here and here), if the United States continues to insist that the ultimate goal of these talks is the idea that North Korea will give up its nuclear arsenal, then these talks are doomed to fail. Today, as the year of apparent detente on the Korean peninsula comes to an end, the North Korean government made that clear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FILED UNDER: National Security, North Korea, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Michael Reynolds says:

    Unfortunately we are not back to ‘square one’ because Kim has been allowed to escape the box previous presidents had kept him locked in. Kim has made pals in the South, (SK leader Moon is a liberal and has carried on separate talks with Kim focused on ending the state of war between the two Koreas) and we’ve alienated the Chinese government which keeps Kim alive. Sanctions are less effective than they were, Kim is less isolated, and the US looks like it’s being run by a cretin. An entirely accurate impression.

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  2. Jim Henley says:

    Good piece, Doug. Kim’s a terrible guy, but he is a terrible guy who would be a moron to agree to give up the nukes that got Trump to negotiate with him. As you say, there’s an awful lot the USA and both Koreas could do to ratchet down tensions in the peninsula even further, if everyone gives up their maximal fantasies, including Kim.

    OTOH, I could almost imagine Trump pulling the Nuclear Umbrella from Northeast Asia. What have the RoK and Japan done to line the pockets of the Trump family? China has come across with some nice emoluments the last couple years; Kim appears to have a gift for making Trump swoon; and it would be drama for the US to denuclearize in Korea. Trump lives for drama.

  3. Teve says:

    “I was really being tough and so was he,” he said. “And we would go back and forth. And then we fell in love. No really. He wrote me beautiful letters.”

  4. Kathy says:

    Nuclear tests are carried out for two reasons: 1) to see how the design and materials perform and how to improve them, 2) to check whether the implemented improvements/fixes work.

    Once your weapon works as intended, or in such a way that you can live with it, further tests are no longer necessary.

    Missiles are somewhat the same. Kim was testing longer range missiles, capable of delivering a nuke to the US. He seems to be barely there, but then attacking the US directly would lead to North Korea being turned into a radioactive wasteland.

    In any case, if the missiles worked as desired, or were good enough, no more testing is required.

    Fissile material for the nukes’ cores, though, are different matter. You need to make them, and you only have what you make. If you want to increase your arsenal, either now or later, you need to keep churning out enriched uranium and plutonium.

    The kind of breeder reactor that makes plutonium, I think, can also make tritium (via a complicated process involving lithium). Tritium is the hydrogen isotope in hydrogen (fusion) bombs. It’s also used to boost fission reactions in fission bombs, giving them more explosive yield. lastly, it’s commercially valuable and sold to make glow-in-the-dark instrument faces, watch dials, and other things.

  5. James Pearce says:

    That photo should be a T-shirt.

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  6. Kathy says:

    I recently recall some attempt to compare Trump to a fictional villain, with poor results.

    I think Dennison is more like a Bugs Bunny villain. You know, he tries to get his way or impose his will, and winds up looking ridiculous while he takes one on the chin.

    Can’t you picture Elmer J. Fudd with a bad comb over saying “Be vewy quiet. I’m gonna denucleawize Nowth Kowea.”

  7. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Kathy:
    Yeah, he’s too stupid to be a good super-villain. Can you imagine Trump sitting still long enough to actually plan world conquest? No, he’s much more the toothless Deliverance Hillbilly type of villain. Did you read the Booman today? He has a compilation of all the Trump cabinet members and senior staff who’ve referred to him as an idiot.

    When I first said that Trump was stupid very few agreed. People confuse wealth or fame with intelligence. The meritocratic myth requires us to dismiss the possibility that a person could be rich, successful(ish) and famous and yet be as dumb as a brick. He’s been called an idiot, a moron or a fifth grader by his own SecState, SecDef, Treasury Sec and two Chiefs of Staff. His current CoS just thinks he’s ‘a terrible human being.’ The people 2 1/2 years ago who agreed most readily that Trump was stupid, unsurprisingly perhaps, were other writers, people who work with words. It was obvious in his use of language. Listen to anyone talk for half an hour and you can guess their IQ within fifteen points.

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  8. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    When I first said that Trump was stupid very few agreed. People confuse wealth or fame with intelligence.

    I never paid much attention to Trump until he ran. Till then, he seemed like the average vacuous, shallow celebrity who’s famous for being famous. Once I paid some attention to him, it was clear I was right, and that the man is a kind of stupid.

    But it’s more than that. In large part it’s the well-known Dunning-Kruger effect, but more so. It’s ignorance without the awareness of ignorance.

    When he said he’d expected an Obamacare repeal and replace bill ready on his desk the day he was sworn in, one could forgive him for assuming so. after all, the GOP had made noises about repeal and replace for years. But one could not forgive him for not even asking the GOP’s congressional leadership what they had ready during the transition.

    And when he said no one knew health care could be so complicated, well, anyone with two brain cells who’d paid minimal attention to domestic politics since the 1980s knew it to be devilishly complex.

  9. Kylopod says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I’ve written about this at length already, but my impression of Trump for years was that he was a performance artist playing a character, like Andy Kaufman doing Tony Clifton. This wasn’t because I couldn’t believe a stupid person could become rich and famous. Far from it. In my own life, I’ve known plenty of stupid people, as well as sociopathic and narcissistic people. None of them behaves like Trump. Nobody I’ve ever heard of behaves like Trump. The man isn’t just stupid–he’s a walking and talking cartoon character. I’ve made this point over and over, but I still feel like a lot of people don’t get it. They use terms like “idiot,” “narcissist,” “sociopath,” “man-child,” which may all be accurate in themselves but which don’t come close to capturing the total freak of nature we’re dealing with here. It’s like the blind men and the elephant: each describes the elephant accurately, but nobody gets anything close to the full picture.

  10. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy:

    And when he said no one knew health care could be so complicated, well, anyone with two brain cells who’d paid minimal attention to domestic politics since the 1980s knew it to be devilishly complex.

    His statement did not even make logical sense on its own terms. If “nobody” knew health care could be this complicated, then how did it exist as a topic for so long before he made this discovery? Were all the people involved in health care for all those decades unaware of the complexity of their very own area of expertise? How would that have worked? Or was it simply a topic that existed in the ether, with no human involvement, until Trump suddenly became the first to discover it in 2017?

    His statement can only be understood as part of his compulsive inability to acknowledge that he has anything less than godlike knowledge and skills. He discovered that health care was a lot more complicated than he previously realized, but admitting that outright would be tantamount to admitting there are other human beings on the planet who know more than he does about something, and he’d sooner swallow arsenic than make that admission. So he projected his own limitations on the entire human race, leading to the logically absurd proposition that he was the first to discover the complexity of a topic whose very existence proves that can’t possibly be true. He really is like the baby who thinks when his parents leave the room they no longer exist.

  11. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    No one, anywhere, ever again is going to “’denuclearize’ in the manner that the United States understands it.” First of all, the United States itself is unwilling to “’denuclearize’ in the manner that the United States understands it,” so why should anyone else be willing to do so? Moreover, the world has the example of the former despot that used to be known as Muammar Gaddafi–who was promised security guarantees no less–to see the real world effects of such a “denuclearization.” And he was working with American leaders who had been known to keep their word occasionally. Age of Trump and beyond? Fuggeddaboudit!

    I was going to note that it’s hard for us to be pushed “back to square one” when we never left square one in the first place, but it seems gratuitous.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: @Kylopod:

    no one knew health care could be so complicated,

    No, HE didn’t know health care could be so complicated…. because he had the money to pay somebody else to take care of it for him.

    I recently got Medicare. I knew about Medicare Part A and figured if there’s a Part A there has to be a Part B (there is) but there is also a Part C, which wasn’t exactly a surprise because I knew of Medicare Part D and the infamous “donut hole” (I’m still not sure why there is a Part C but there has to be a reason, even if it’s only because somebody needed their pockets lined). But now I find there is a Medicare Part F and Medicare Part G and I’m still not sure exactly what either of them do besides suck a lot of money out of my pocket (something tells me there is a Medicare Part E out there and when I find it I am not going to be happy) and no doubt if H, I, J, and K don’t yet exist, somebody somewhere is drafting legislation at this very moment to create them.

    I have come to the conclusion that *Spaniards* are absolute geniuses because they have national health care and it’s really simple. What is more it works.

    ** I pick Spain only because my wife is from there and I know how it worked for Abuelita and Abuelito.

  13. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’ve known for 35+ years that Trump is a stupid, vulgar buffoon, a failed social climber.

  14. Slugger says:

    What impressed me most about the Singapore summit was that the leader of a country too poor to afford a special airliner to get there was able to leave as an equal of the President of the United States. Amazing.

  15. Michael Reynolds says:

    @CSK:
    Like I said: writers. I was thinking about it, though, and it occurred to me that I don’t think it works as well ‘listening’ to the written word because you get so much interference from things like dyslexia, or ESL. But once a person starts talking it’s immediate, like hearing sharp notes in familiar music. If a bunch of things break my way I may be casting a young actress to play a genius, and I’m telling the producer he needs to look for someone who is actually smart or everyone will hear it in her voice. Like when Denise Richards played a nuclear physicist in one of the Bond movies.

  16. mike shupp says:

    @Kylopod: You don’t like the guy, I gather. He irritates you. I can understand. I share the feeling.

    Still, for roughly 40% of the nation’s adults, with long experience at watching politicians and businessmen, Donald Trump appears to be The Real Thing. He’s determined, he’s truthful, he knows what he’s about and who his supporters are, and he understands their concerns as no other American leader ever has. He is the protector of our freedoms, the defender of our dignity and honor. And according to the leadership and fervent conviction of our largest religious groups, he has been sent to us BY GOD HIMSELF.

    40% remember, two of every five citizens in the world’s third largest nation, the most affluent, the best educated, the most sophisticated, the wisest, the most generous people of all history, and they love their Donald Trump. He is our Andrew Jackson reborn, our Saint George, our Charlemagne, our Napoleon, our Charles XII, our Peter the Great, our Genghiz Khan and Alexander the Great and Julius Ceasar and our ….uh….. Kaiser Wilhelm. All those wonderful guys, y’know. I mean, just wait, they’ll be writing rock and roll love songs to him any day now, and we’ll be singing songs from an off-Broadway show, and The History Channel will give a whole season to telling us His Story. And Jordan Peterson will explain things in simple language in a TED Talk, and you can’t believe how old Donald’s going to shine in the heavens when the Texas Schoolbook Commission ensures American textbooks provide our children with uplifting images and many relevent footnotes explaining every essential …. uh …. essentiality of the Great Man’s Life.

    How unimportant are our trivial likes and dislikes, in the clear light of history! Oh, we have so much to look forward to, If This Goes On! Think Nehemiah Scudder in a Brooklyn accent.

  17. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: The F,G,H…parts are types of “Medigap” policies that will pay all of one’s copays and deductibles in addition to the parts that Part C pays. The premiums are very high (my quote at 65 was $500+/month) but might come in handy if one plans on living long enough to make cancer a likely cause of death. They also have appeal to the people who liked “Cadillac” health policies when they were younger.

    (I was recently at a meeting where one of the men was saying that when his wife got cancer, their residual payment was something like $50k after Part C had paid what it was going to. I don’t fully understand how that worked, but I assume that “total annual out-of-pocket expense” doesn’t mean exactly what it seems to.)

  18. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @mike shupp:

    Still, for roughly 40% of the nation’s adults, …Donald Trump … he’s truthful,

    Bingo!
    40% of the nation’s “adults” are delusional (unable to acknowledge reality)

  19. mike shupp says:

    @Bob@Youngstown:

    Turning serious for a moment, I don’t think it’s being “delusional” so much as that many people — just about all of us, in fact — have a limited ability to comprehend a complicated argument and are extremely reluctant to let our instinctive behavior be altered by such considerations. We need to follow logic chains — better yet, construct such chains — that move from A to B to C to D and further on, and most of us bog down at C or D, rather than follow all the links to U and V and W or further out to Z3 and A4 and so on.

    Part of this, of course, is that life’s too short for considering everything. I’m willing to accept the notion presented by some authority figures that atmospheric increases in CO2 can bring on global warming, without quibbbling over every scientific paper on the subject written in the last fifty years. Possibly that strikes you as reasonable as well; I assure you the internet is filled with horrified people who disparage my gullability. (Let’s jump over a long discussion. Let me mumble “Dunning-Krieger” a few times and we’ll move on. )

    Beyond this, my suspicion is our little brains are equipped by nature to deal with types of issues — for example, how do I deduce from Arethrea’s behavior towards Bobby that she believes Clara is unfaithful to David? — and not by other types — These phenomena suggest that dispersion of Topfulla bottomluss over a wide geographic range was affected by ambient concentrations of carbon dioxide rather than oxygen alone, implying novel respiratory responses to …

    And so on. The upshot, I think, is that calling Donald Trump’s supporters delusional or simply stupid probably misses the point. It’s that Trump’s behavior and attitudes just seem to resonate with a large number of voters, who almost instinctively fall in line as his supporters. (And Barak Obama’s carraige and behavior just seemed properly Presidential eithout deep analysis for a fair number of his supporters.)

    The next question is What Can We Do About This? Not much, except to just to be Wild and Disruptive, we might ask political scientists and journalists to give up on all those 1950-vintage sociology texts (THE AMERICAN VOTER, MIDDLETOWN, THE LONELY CROWD, etc) that once seemed so persuasive and write for modern audiences.

    Another question is How Might Things Improve? And that scares me — I’ve got an image of a Facebook App. Download some text from a web site and highlight it, then ask the app, Is This Right? Dumb or bright, sober or high, don’t use your mind at all — just trust the App. Who needs a mind as long as we can all right sweep, eh?