The Corner

Krauthammer’s Take

From last night’s All-Stars:

On North Korea releasing U.S. journalists to President Clinton:

Well, it’s the return of hostages in exchange for stuff. And we will learn about that stuff. It’s clear that this was wired in advance.

There probably was an apology [offered by President Clinton in Pyongyang]. After all, the secretary of state, the president’s wife, had said openly, as we saw earlier, that we were sorry about the incident, and we were asking for amnesty, which was implying the legitimacy of the arrest and the trial. So we have already issued an apology.

Secondly, it is obvious that he was an envoy of the Obama administration, despite our denials. This is the one time in history in which the official news station of the North Koreans told the truth, but it does happen once every 50 years.

But thirdly, there was obviously a quid pro quo. The first of it we saw because we had Kim Jong-Il, who has had a stroke- – he’s been wobbly and unsteady, and you can understand in a dictatorship like his how that begins the rumors of succession — so by standing up in the photos that we just saw, obviously engaged with Clinton, he looks like he is back in charge. That helps him personally.

Secondly, by getting a very high level envoy — you can’t get higher level than a former president of the United States — it does help the North Koreans in their legitimacy.

And it’s a demonstration of direct negotiations with the United States, which is what Pyongyang has always demanded. So…it got a lot.

And it probably has gotten stuff that we haven’t even heard about and we may never hear about — aid in food and oil. All of that stuff will happen quietly in the future.

But it was a hostage ransom. No question at all.

On the administration’s denunciation of protesters at health-care town halls:

There is a certain irony in an administration denouncing ordinary Americans who get together to express what they believe and to confront authority, when that administration is led by a man who began his career as a community organizer, whose job, as I understand it, is to take ordinary Americans, get them together to express what they believe, and express demands against the authorities.

So it’s unbelievably hypocritical. And, of course, as we just heard, this only happens when you have a conservative protest. It is called a mob. If it’s a liberal protest, it is called grassroots expressing themselves.

Remember, just a year ago under the Bush administration, dissent was the highest form of patriotism. And today it is a kind of either organized anger, it’s a facsimile of anger, it’s unpatriotic, it’s whatever.

Look, there is a genuine revolt against the idea of remaking a [health-care] system when over 80 percent of Americans have health insurance. Five of six of those are happy with their health care, and four of five are happy with their health insurance.

You have an administration arrogantly deciding it is going to tear it all up, start all over, and people are surprised that there are protests, and say that it had to be manufactured? Of course it is spontaneous. [If] people go together on a bus, that’s entirely legitimate, and it ought to be encouraged.

NRO Staff — Members of the National Review Online editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

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