Good news, everybody: We're now in the stage of our latest international crisis where the president of the United States' top subordinates are reassuring everyone that they shouldn't take the sitting president's statements seriously. No, that didn't used to be a "stage" of international crisis, but it is now.
No worries, then: Trump's vow that North Korea would see "fire and fury like the world has never seen" was, according to aides, merely an unsupervised utterance of the presidential word-hole.
Among those taken by surprise, they said, was John F. Kelly, the retired four-star Marine general who has just taken over as White House chief of staff and has been with the president at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., for his working vacation.
The president had been told about a Washington Post story on North Korea’s progress in miniaturizing nuclear warheads so that they could fit on top of a ballistic missile, and was in a bellicose mood, according to a person who spoke with him before he made the statement.
That's a good word. "Bellicose." He had been reading the papers—well, he had been talking to someone else who had read the papers—and was feeling "bellicose," so that's how we ended up with a statement that looks to the whole world like a nuclear-tipped threat.
So now we've got Trump's own staff once again reassuring the public that Donald Trump did not really mean what he said during his latest appearance, brushing off his pronouncements as merely him feeling "bellicose" that day. What will the next walk-backs be?
"Be advised that the president's latest declaration about orangutans were merely the aftermath of White House movie night and are not to be construed as policy."
"The public should know that the president had beans for lunch today, so any afternoon pronouncements should be taken with a grain of salt."
Yeah. Those could happen. Oh—and a thought: Donald Trump only learned of his own government’s assessment that North Korea now had the ability to mount nuclear warheads onto missiles because someone told him that the Washington Post was reporting it? That seems … odd.