Distractions are the bane of modern life, and events in Washington are making it difficult to keep our eyes on what’s going on here in our Willow Pattern backyard. But the way it is playing out indicates to us, long experienced in trying to figure out Zhongnanhai, that the evidence exists of collusion between Trump’s people and Russia on a level that will end his presidency, and it is now just a matter of who is going to leak what and when. He has too many enemies for it not to be leaked, and too many people who see the damage that would be done by letting this one slide.
Then again, months after it became known that there are embarrassing outtakes from the Apprentice, they still haven’t emerged, and you can argue that the same could be true of the Russia evidence. But its importance compared to random invocations of the N-word is black and white, as it were. Our money is still on the US system being able to absorb, correct and transcend this weird moment.
But one result of it all is that US officials currently have no time to consider issues like the South China Sea, leaving Zhongnanhai with a surprisingly free hand during a crucial transition period. The South Koreans, it feels to us, are going to stick with THAAD regardless of the threats and actions of the Chinese government. And the timing of the meeting between Trump and Xi down in Florida has been fixed, with Trump tweeting that it’s going to be a difficult discussion. But our guess is he’s going to be distracted, too, during those chats. What really matters to him right now? Clarifying the China situation or keeping the Russian situation muddy? Enjoy the weekend!