by Daniel Politi · November 12, 2017
President Donald Trump looks on during a special gala celebration dinner for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Manila on November 12, 2017.
ATHIT PERAWONGMETHA/AFP/Getty Images
President Trump took his Twitter account to a whole new level of petty over the weekend, calling another world leader “short and fat.” Why? He apparently got felt offended about being called “old.” It all began with a statement issued by North Korea on Saturday that referred to Trump as a “destroyer” who “begged for nuclear war.” What seems to have really gotten to the commander in chief though was that Pyongyang called him a “dotard,” a word that refers to a very old person that North Korea has used to describe Trump in the past. “Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’ Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!” Trump tweeted.
Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me “old,” when I would NEVER call him “short and fat?” Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 12, 2017
Later in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, Trump said “it would be very, very nice” if he and the North Korean dictator became friends. “That might be a strange thing to happen but it’s a possibility,” he said. Without even batting an eye, Trump said that “we want progress, not provocation” when it comes to North Korea.
Asked about the insult on Sunday, White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said Trump’s reaction was justified because Kim lobbed the first insult. “I think that was the president just responding the way he does to somebody who insulted him first,” Conway said when asked whether “name calling is helpful.”
Conway on Trump’s tweet on Kim Jong Un: That “was the president just responding the way he does to somebody who insulted him first.” pic.twitter.com/8xsEMStIYL
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) November 12, 2017
North Korea has long insulted U.S. leaders, what’s different now is how Trump is reacting. The Washington Post explains:
The message marks an unusually personal escalation of the tensions between the United States and North Korea over Pyongyang’s weapons program. It is also another sign of the change in rhetoric used to address North Korea since Trump took office: Though North Korea has long been known for hurling bellicose insults at world leaders, rarely have those world leaders responded in kind.
Of course, Trump is a not your average world leader. The current president is a pugnacious social media user often willing to respond with his own harsh words when he feels wronged. As a spokeswoman for his wife, Melania Trump, put it earlier this year, when Trump is attacked “he will punch back 10 times harder.”
Whether this instinct to hit back could help his self-described efforts toward becoming Kim’s friend in the future — or harm them — is unclear.