Trump’s criticism of Sessions, known as a man of character, was wearing thin in one of the president’s electoral strongholds: Republican leaders in Sessions’ home state of Alabama defended the former senator. Meanwhile, Republican leaders in Iowa such as Steve Deace and Bob Vander Plaats tweeted that Trump needed to fire Scaramucci.
The good news in the late-July circus of tragedy was that Trump, well aware of White House turmoil, was willing to change course. White House chief of staff Reince Priebus resigned. Trump appointed a new chief of staff, retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, who will try to impose some discipline. One of Kelly’s first directives was apparently: Scaramucci must go.
Our cover story, concerning North Korea, shows the need for a White House capable of discernment in making some life-or-death decisions. At the height of the Cold War during the 1960s and 1970s, the Soviet Union had nuclear missiles aimed at the United States, but American analysts concluded Soviet leaders were rational—and that proved true in 1962 when the Cuban missile crisis brought the world close to conflagration.
The North Korean dictatorship, by starving its own people and throwing its resources into nuclear weapons, already threatens South Korea and is rapidly moving to the point where its missiles could reach Japan and the western United States. The problem is not the missiles themselves but Kim Jong Un’s mental instability that might lead him to use them.
The Trump administration has several options, all bad. The tendency in any administration is to kick the can down the road, hoping the problem will lessen in four or eight years—and if it doesn’t, tragedy will come on a successor’s watch. But what if waiting turns sadness into a mega-tragedy greater than any the world has seen so far?
We’re not saying what kind of action the Trump administration should take. We don’t know. But it would be good to have confidence that discerning leaders are willing to act if action is essential. After a tumultuous July, let’s hope a retired Marine general can help America’s leaders move beyond circus to wise cohesion.