There seems to be some mystery about whether or not Trump planned to launch a verbal carpet bomb on North Korea on Tuesday. He was supposed to be talking about the opioid addiction problem (and punt on it), but instead we got “fire and fury,” which, depending on who you listen to, he cribbed from Harry Truman in 1945 or Ming the Merciless.
The president’s language, which aides say he had used in private, escalated the long-running dispute with North Korea to a new level and left members of the Trump administration scrambling on Wednesday to explain what he meant.
But the process, or lack of one, that led to the ad-libbed comments embodied Mr. Trump’s overall approach to foreign policy, an improvisational style that often leaves his national security team in the dark about what he is going to say or do, according to several people with direct knowledge of how the episode unfolded.
I thought that this kind of incident was what Gen. John Kelly, the newly-minted Chief of Staff, was hired to prevent: to get control of the messages coming out of the West Wing, to keep order and discipline, and stop the diarrhea of blunders and mixed metaphors from hitting the fan. But if this is an example of his abilities, he’s already up the creek.