Smart Ideas: The Folly of a Second North Korea Summit

Plus: Why draft Beto?

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un
KRT via AP
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Jan. 10, 2019, 8 p.m.

The insanity of a second North Korea summit

Noah Rothman, writing for Commentary

There is no good reason for the administration to hold a second summit with North Korea. It is clear the stick-and-carrot model does not work with the regime, which has not softened its position that the U.S. must first remove its nukes from the region. “Pyongyang has demonstrated no willingness to disarm. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has continued to develop nuclear fuel, expand long-range missile production facilities, and build nuclear weapons. ... Pyongyang hasn’t even provided U.S. officials with an inventory of its nuclear weapons and capabilities—the most meager of gestures that would suggest North Korea is a serious negotiating partner.” Meeting again would grant Kim Jong-un further undeserved legitimacy on the international stage and reinforce his grip over the citizenry.

Deemphasize the “success sequence”

Brent Orrell, writing for the American Enterprise Institute

The “success sequence,” which suggests “that avoiding poverty depends on graduating from high school, getting a full-time job, and marrying before having children,” is not a prescription for economic mobility so much as a series of accomplishments usually achieved by those already likely to succeed. “A strong marriage relationship creates a stable, nurturing home that leads to a happy childhood that forges educational and economic success." But "telling people that they, too, can go to Paris when they lack a passport, a ticket, and a sense of how to get to the airport (or even why such a trip might be a nice thing) is more notable for what it leaves out than for what it teaches. Why would we expect a child growing up in a town or neighborhood with few intact families, a 50 percent drop-out rate, and high levels of unemployment to recognize the value of marriage, education, and work?" The sequence, as it were, is built up over years and generations of dialogue among children, families, and communities. “It is a testimony to human resilience that so many disadvantaged kids achieve" success even without it.

The uniqueness of the Draft Beto movement

Ed Kilgore, writing for New York Magazine

The effort to draft Beto O’Rourke into the presidential race stands apart from past draft movements. Most notably, politicians now wear their ambitions on their sleeves more than in the past. O’Rourke "isn't much playing the reluctant candidate" as he prepares to embark on "what is usually called a 'listening tour.'" His profile doesn’t fit other draft subjects either: He’s just a politician who lost a race, not a war hero like Dwight Eisenhower or a business leader like Wendell Willkie. And among the “momentary efforts to draft a candidate at perceived crisis points,” like Jeb Bush in 2012 or Elizabeth Warren in 2016, respectively, O’Rourke is not “a senior party figure with a very familiar name” or “being summoned forward to fill a vacuum in a sparse presidential field.”

Beto O'Rourke AP Photo/Eric Gay
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