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Trump Kim Summit (copy)

President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un walk together in Singapore at their June meeting.

A bunch of us were musing the other night about what Republican members of Congress and the party's "communication" apparatus would be saying had Barack Obama met with North Korea's dear leader, saluted a cadre of his generals and proclaimed him to be a good man.

You can get a clue by going back to Obama's 2008 campaign for the presidency, when he declared during a debate with his Republican opponent, John McCain, that he'd be willing to meet with world adversaries like North Korea, Iran and Cuba without preconditions if it provided a chance to achieve world peace.

The GOP reacted with scorn and a super PAC backing McCain ran ads featuring actors portraying Fidel Castro and Kim Jong Il (Kim Jong Un's father) laughing about it, concluding with the words, "Barack Obama: No Match for America's Enemies."

The voice of the neocons, William J. Bennett, wrote in the National Review: "Barack Obama's position on negotiating with U.S. enemies betrays a profound misreading of history" and if, for instance, Obama were to meet with Iranian officials, "he will lower the prestige of the office of the president."

And Fox News' chief liar, Sean Hannity, proclaimed in 2008 that Obama's willingness to meet with North Korea was one of the most disturbing displays of Obama's lack of foreign policy experience. Today, according to Hannity, Trump's willingness to meet with North Korea "is a huge policy win."

Remember, too, when the right went nuts about a year later when on a trip to Saudi Arabia President Obama appeared to bow to Saudi King Abdullah on an official visit. It was a sure sign of weakness, bellowed the conservatives in Congress, insisting that Obama was embarrassing America, which any patriotic citizen knows doesn't bow to kings.

In fact, Obama's first trip abroad was labeled an "apology tour" in which the new president was supposedly apologizing to other countries for past American misdeeds.

But when a few years later a president named Trump arranges a meeting with the North Korean dictator, known for summarily ordering the assassinations of his enemies and locking up any of his countrymen he deems unpatriotic, there's nary a word from these same quarters.

Frankly, Trump's visit with Kim Jong Un was a good thing. It's always better to do some talking rather than shooting. As Second District Congressman Mark Pocan said in a statement he co-signed with 15 other House Democrats and sent to Trump: "We are encouraged by your efforts to pursue direct diplomacy with North Korea with the dual goals of resolving the nearly seven-decade-long conflict and achieving the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Diplomacy is the only path to resolve the tensions between our countries."

What Trump didn't need to do, however, was fawn over the North Korean dictator, whose brutality is already legendary despite his young age. Assassinating his half-brother and his uncle and incarcerating more than 100,000 North Korean citizens for not showing him enough deference doesn't qualify Kim as a nice guy.

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But, if he's done nothing else since becoming president, Trump has made it clear he likes dictators.

And, according to a lot of his supporters, that's just fine. They'll pay heed when he tells them to sit up straight.

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. dzweifel@madison.com and on Twitter @DaveZweifel. 

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