After weeks of reports from White House officials about Donald Trump’s refusal to prepare for next week’s summit with North Korea’s Jim Jong-un, the president did something surprising yesterday: he effectively confirmed the reports and explained that he doesn’t feel the need to do his homework.
“I don’t think I have to prepare very much,” Trump told reporters, adding, “This isn’t a question of preparation.”
This morning, before the president departed for a G-7 meeting in Canada, a reporter asked Trump if he was serious about not needing to prepare. The Republican replied:
“I always believe in preparation, but I’ve been preparing all my life. You know, these one-week preparations, they don’t work. Just ask Hillary what happened to her in the debates.”
For the record, Trump referenced Hillary Clinton four times this morning, during a fairly brief Q&A with reporters on the White House’s South Lawn.
The election was 577 days ago, but he’s still running against his former rival. One gets the sense he’ll never stop.
Regardless, Trump’s argument against preparation this morning was bizarre. “Just ask Hillary what happened to her in the debates”? To the extent that reality matters, in 2016, polls showed Americans saw Clinton as the winner of the first debate. And the second debate. And the third debate. She was prepared, he wasn’t, and she won.
But in a case like this, those details are largely beside the point, because even if Clinton had lost the debates, that wouldn’t justify Trump’s anti-preparation posture.
Not to put too fine a point on this, but the American president is just days away from a summit with the dictator of a nuclear state, where the two will discuss an issue that Trump, the United States’ first amateur president, knows practically nothing about.
I’m not rooting for the summit to fail. On the contrary, with so much on the line, any reasonable person has to hope for success. That said, the American president’s indifference toward preparation does not inspire confidence.