The idiotic name-calling between President Trump and North Korean strongman Kim Jong Un is like two old bald men fighting over a comb.
Except for this troubling fact: The two leaders have funny hair, but they have fingers that can push the nuclear bomb button. Let’s hope their deep dislike for one another doesn’t go there.
Trump calls Kim “Little Rocket Man” and a “lunatic.” Kim shoots back, calling Trump a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” (an old lunatic), “a frightened dog” and “a rogue and gangster fond of playing with fire.”
Calm diplomats stiffen while this “war of wacky words” continues between the two fiery leaders
We are told that words are cheap. But when insults are tossed back and forth like hand grenades at the highest level, it seems we move closer to the Elvis Presley moment: “It’s now or never.”
In this case, both leaders need to step back and cool it from their salami-tactic, “slice-by-slice” statements.
Sure, it’s a great verbal show when The Donald calls Little Kim “a total nut job.” And when Kim shoots back that Trump is a “neukdari,” meaning a lazy, useless, demented person. We chuckle at the bizarre comments.
The late governor of Alabama, George Wallace, used similar type name-calling in his campaign for the presidency. He referred to Richard Nixon as a “shifty-eyed weasel” and a “shady con man.” Wallace often referred to him as “Millhouse,” Nixon’s middle name though spelled differently.
Lester Maddox also was a master at name-calling, referring to Jimmy Carter as “little Mr. Peanut” and “Guv-nor Whiney.”
We’ve become pretty numb to name-calling, simply because that’s the substance of politics in our time. But the back-and-forth banter between The Donald and The Kim gets a little too heated and far out for us to laugh at or consider OK.
I don’t think either leader really wants this chest beating to escalate into something terrible, but we all would be more at ease if they went back to ignoring each other.
Just about all the people in all the nations on earth wish to live in peace. And there are no good arguments why that can’t be.
Ken Burns’ documentary on the Vietnam War, shown on PBS, exposes us again to the real horror of war. The useless fighting that went on in Indochina was totally brutal and totally unnecessary.
For some reason, we, as a nation, never seem to learn from our mistakes. Look at the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan after the 9/11 attack in 2001. American troops are still there, fighting. We are still engaged in warfare in Iraq and now in Syria.
These wars are eating a very large hole in our national debt. To date, the Gulf wars have robbed our nation of more than $1 trillion.
In short, we cannot find an exit from the wars where the U.S. can save face. And the cost to keep fighting is staggering and sucking up our money like a giant vacuum cleaner.
A war in North Korea and subsequent occupation of the country would be even more costly in precious soldiers and in desperately needed American dollars.
We have bigger fish to fry here at home. America’s infrastructure is crumbling. We need a national rebuilding project that, hopefully, won’t drain away all our remaining money.
We need to focus on affordable and universal health care for all Americans.
In short, we want intelligent and responsible use of our tax dollars. Name-calling is supposed to be free of charge, but it usually leads us into lengthy engagements that eat up the cash.
When world leaders today shout insults at each other, they are putting in danger the lives of the very people they have sworn to protect.
Pope Francis summed it up smartly: “The more powerful you are, the more responsible you are to act humbly.” No humility is shown by either Trump or Kim.
We have elected humble leaders in the past, like President Carter. But critics cry out that they are too soft, too weak. They won’t stand up to bully leaders of rogue nations. Politically, that is seen as a very bad thing.
With the pope’s message in mind, please allow me to call for calm, cooler rhetoric from these two non-humble leaders.
Statesmanship works best when it’s grounded in true humility. We don’t want a cold war of nasty words and bullying, which could lead us into a red-hot war of great destruction and expense.
Our precious soldiers don’t need to be wasted on Kim or North Korea.
Keeping America safe is not the art of the deal. It’s the art of statesmanship.
Ralph E. Morris, a Phenix City native and resident, is a retired career journalist and former writer for the Ledger-Enquirer, where he authored an Associated Press and Georgia Press Association award-winning 1969 series on Jimmy Carter’s run for governor. This column originally appeared in the Auburn Bulletin.