President Donald Trump’s speech Tuesday contrasting the horrors and cruelty of North Korea with the progress and prosperity of South Korea left some of the pundits on MSNBC squeamish.
In a speech to the South Korean legislature, Trump laid out the divergent paths taken by the two Koreas since the close of the Korean War and sent a direct message to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“The weapons you are acquiring are not making you safer. They are putting your regime in grave danger. Every step you take down this dark path increases the peril you face,” Trump said.
“North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned. It is a hell that no person deserves.”
Trump’s depictions of North Korea were a bit too much for Philip Rucker, the White House bureau chief for The Washington Post.
“But the other thing that stuck out to me in this speech Brian, was, he painted a picture of what life in North Korea is like under this regime. He described it as hell. He talked about a murderous regime. In very dark terms,” Rucker said on MSNBC.
MSNBC host Brian Williams agreed.
“Yeah, Phil, to one of your points, I was really struck by how clinical and graphic this speech got at one point,” Williams said. “Very dark, wondering what, where, how that was injected into this speech? It’s not the kind of thing you wanted children in the room to hear.”
Rucker said Trump’s Wednesday language was part of a pattern of which The Post reporter disapproved.
“It’s not, but we’ve seen this before in some of President Trump’s speeches, including his inaugural address when he talked about American carnage. He likes this sort of graphic imagery. He spoke this way on the campaign trail a lot. He describes terrorists as animals. I mean, he likes to come up with really sort of visceral terminology when he’s making his points,” he said.
Williams also said he was upset that Trump, who in Japan stressed the hope of using diplomacy to resolve differences with North Korea, took a much harder tone while speaking in Seoul.
“Yesterday’s theme though from him was kind of let’s make a deal. Even in Japan, he was saying we can work something out. It was a little bit of outreach,” he said. “Today/tonight we are back to something closer to fire and fury.”
Trump devoted much of his speech to contrasting the economic growth of South Korea with the harsh and brutal way of life in North Korea.
“The Korean miracle extends exactly as far as the armies of free nations advanced in 1953. Twenty-five miles to the north, there it stops. It all comes to an end, dead stop. The flourishing ends and the prison state of North Korea, sadly, begins,” Trump said.
Trump referred to Kim’s government as a “twisted regime” and a “cruel dictatorship.”
“North Korea is a country ruled as a cult. At the center of this military cult is a deranged belief in the leader’s destiny to rule as parent-protector over a conquered Korean Peninsula and an enslaved Korean people,” Trump said.
“All the while, the regime has pursued nuclear weapons with the deluded hope that it could blackmail its way to the ultimate objective,” he added, noting that America will not tolerate North Korea’s actions any longer.
“The regime has interpreted America’s past restraint as weakness. This would be a fatal miscalculation. This is a very different administration than the United States has had in the past. Today I hope I speak not only for our countries, but for all civilized nations when I say to the North: Do not underestimate us. And do not try us,” Trump said.
He explained history has a lesson Kim needs to learn.
“History is filled with discarded regimes that have foolishly tested America’s resolve. Anyone who doubts the strength or determination of the United States should look to our past, and you will doubt it no longer. We will not permit America or our allies to be blackmailed or attacked,” he said.
“We will not allow American cities to be threatened with destruction. We will not be intimidated. And we will not let the worst atrocities in history be repeated here on this ground we fought and died so hard to secure.”
Trump continued, “Yet despite every crime, you have committed against God and man … we will offer a path to a much better future. It begins with an end to the aggression of your regime, a stop to your development of ballistic missiles, and complete, verifiable and total denuclearization.”