Even ex-Republicans can’t deny that President Donald Trump’s North Korea summit was a major achievement.
MSNBC anchor Joe Scarborough praised Trump on his self-titled show on Tuesday for the historic summit in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying he felt “a sense of relief” to see the two leaders shaking hands after months of tensions.
“Good on him”
On his Tuesday episode of Morning Joe, Scarborough, a former Republican, recalled the “bleak situation” of six months ago, when talk of a ground war with North Korea bubbled up at the Pentagon’s top brass amid tensions with the regime. Scarborough admitted that the de-escalation culminating in Tuesday’s summit would look good for Trump when voters saw the front-page news.
“[American voters] are going to look at the front page of the paper today and they’re going to say, ‘Good on him. This is a hell of a lot better than a nuclear war,'” Scarborough said.
Watch “Morning Joe” talk Trump and North Korea:
“Maybe threatening him” actually worked
Trump’s first year in office was marked by hostility toward Kim, who he called a “Little Rocket Man” and threatened with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” But Scarborough admitted that Trump’s brash approach may have convinced Kim to come to the table.
“Who knows, maybe shaking things up, maybe saying ‘no’ to the experts, maybe raising hell on the world stage, maybe calling him ‘Little Rocket Man,’ maybe threatening him got these two together,” Scarborough suggested.
Trump signed a four-point pact with Kim at the recent summit calling for new, peaceful relations between the countries and total denuclearization of the peninsula. The meeting, which few thought was possible until recently, marked the first time a sitting U.S. president has met with a North Korean leader.
Democrats and some Republican pundits were quick to question the consequences of the pact, with many saying that Trump had “legitimized” the North Korean regime while giving away too much for too little in return. Still, many saw the meeting as a historic sign that change was on the horizon between two countries that had technically been at war since the 1950s.
Scarborough’s comments were a rare departure from his frequent criticism of the president. Scarborough said earlier this week that his “worst expectations” were met at the G-7 summit in Canada on Saturday, where the bold approach that Trump applied to North Korea was again on display.
Trump championed his “America First” agenda at the G7 summit in defiance of multi-lateral trade agreements that he says put America at a disadvantage. He later ditched a joint statement committing to the summit’s goals while flying on Air Force One to Singapore in response to a rebuke from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Scarborough, a former Republican congressman, left the party in October in protest of its support for Trump.
This is rare praise coming from a Trump critic, but it is hardly undeserved. If even Trump’s rivals are praising him, he must be doing something right.