Yesterday President Trump invited the Senate to the White House for a briefing on North Korea.  Trump is going to subject North Korea to stronger sanctions.  Bold move. Wow. Oh wait.

When I look at the numbers the US Census Bureau publishes regarding US foreign Trade with North Korea,  it looks like the US has exported a total of $1.1B worth of goods to North Korea since 2000.  Divided by 16 years, the US average annual export to North Korea is $6.9M/year.   Putting that into units of Trump tower security running about $500K/day, the average annual exports to North Korea are approximately a 2-week security detail at the Trump Tower in New York …

So from my seat out in the bleachers, here is the Trump playbook:

  1. Create a “crisis”. (For this example, Tweet about North Korea behaving badly.  As President, he may have oh, I don’t know, a cabinet member, a whole department devoted to international relations? That would take too long and require a stated strategy, maybe some policy … but a Tweet!  A Tweet shortcuts all that and gets Spicer involved.)
  2. Announce loudly and boldly what you are going to do to address the crisis.  Make it sound creative and new and sort of like ‘I don’t know why no one else hasn’t thought of this before’.  (For this example, the Senate was summoned to the White House; Trump announced imposing stronger sanctions North Korea.  Let me pause to point out that the 2016 exports/net trade with North Korea was $100,000.  $100,000 for  Putting that in units of Trump tower security detail, we are going to impose stricter sanctions with North Korea adding up to 5  hours of Trump Tower security.)
  3. Take credit.  For what?  Senators at White House for national security briefing?  Swift, decisive action that doesn’t include war?
  4. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I’m going to pay more attention to how crisis are created and diverted.  Today, other news outlets note that having the Senate over for a non-announcement-event was really just a photo op.

But then, this is now really all yesterday’s news.  Today has moved on:  Government shutdown? Taxes? ACA repeal?

Buckle up.