But Trump has also increasingly shown an affinity for the idea that he can mend tattered relationships — particularly the ones he’s torn asunder himself.
Just months ago, he was threatening to unleash “fire and fury” on Kim and calling the North Korean autocrat “little rocket man.”
Now, he’s telling the world that Kim is a credible partner in peace talks.
“As history has proven over and over again, adversaries can become friends,” Trump said at a news conference here Tuesday.
And Trump, who publicly muses about winning a Nobel Peace Prize, surely knows he can’t make peace with nations who are already friends.
Instead, he’s appeared somewhat obsessed with the idea that he can forge new bonds with adversaries in North Korea, China and Russia.
While China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin don’t need Trump’s assistance to grab international attention, Kim can use the help.
Wendy Sherman, a senior State Department official in the Obama administration, said on MSNBC Tuesday that the meeting between Trump and Kim was a good thing but that it was also startling because of the parity afforded Kim.
“I was a little taken aback by the North Korean flags and the American flags side by side,” Sherman said. “We really aren’t side by side. We aren’t equals to each other, and this conferred power to Kim Jong Un that I don’t believe he has yet earned in terms of the respect from the United States.”