Every so often but not nearly often enough, you'll hear a liberal acknowledge a self-evident truth and say to yourself, how about that, there just might be hope yet.
Such could have been the case for the handful of conservatives listening to Bill Press's radio show on Monday when he was talking with former Biden adviser Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, which describes itself as a "global peace and security foundation" focusing on nuclear weapons policy.
Press, perhaps best known as the liberal half of CNN's talk show Crossfire in the 1990s, now hosts one of the few popular liberal radio programs and writes a syndicated column, and has written several books on politics.
The pair were talking about President Trump's summit this week with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. First came this surprising criticism of Democrats' churlishness toward Trump's efforts regarding North Korea, followed by more of the unexpected from both Press and Cirincione --
PRESS: So when you add up the first summit in Singapore and this summit and certainly the relaxation of tension on the North Korean, I mean on the Korean Peninsula, does that justify a nuclear, a Nobel Peace Prize?
CIRINCIONE (chuckles): No it doesn't. But it doesn't justify the Democratic opposition to this process either, which is the other angle that's going on here. In this town I would say the press and the politics is dominated by criticism of Trump on this and I understand that. I mean, I'm critical of Trump for 99 out of a hundred things he does. So when he does something right you have severe cognitive dissonance -- how can I like this thing he's doing if I hate this man?
CIRINCIONE: And so, but I think he's doing something right because he's taking a very unusual approach. He started at the top. This isn't the way this is supposed to work. You know, he gave Kim the meeting at the top. Inadvertently or by some innate smarts -- I don't want to call the man a genius -- you know, he created the conditions that maybe can solve this problem if the administration is competent enough to see it through. That's what's going to be tested at this summit. We've wasted the last six months. We've found our footing over the last four or five weeks -- Wendy Sherman (former diplomat) will tell you that is nowhere near enough to produce a satisfactory summit agreement -- but we might get close enough and I hope the Democrats give him a chance instead of taking pot shots at him.
And so I'm encouraged, just yesterday a group of Senators sent out a letter, strongly worded, harsh on Trump, but supporting the diplomatic process, supporting our ally in South Korea and for the first time being willing to accept interim steps should they materialize.
PRESS: It is sort of ironic that, like you, I oppose 99 out of a hundred if not 99 and a half out of a hundred ...
CIRINCIONE (laughs): Yeah!
PRESS: ... but it's ironic for Democrats who say, how can you give Donald Trump the Nobel Peace Prize when nothing has happened yet when in fact Barack Obama got the Nobel Peace Prize when he'd only been in office two months and had done nothing ...
CIRINCIONE: Yeah, yeah, right ...
PRESS: ... and had a chance to do anything! And they gave that to him on the promise that he would get things done, right?
PRESS: Not on the results of his diplomatic efforts.
CIRINCIONE: Yeah. You know, I'm giving a talk at Georgetown Law School later this afternoon at 12 noon, come by if you want, and my talk is about the failure of U.S. policy and a lot of it is about Trump but it's also about Barack Obama. I mean, he failed. He wanted to do the right thing, unlike Trump, but he just couldn't get it done and we have to understand why that happened, learn the lessons of that so that when we get another shot in 2021 we'll do it right.
Not only does Press say Obama did nothing to deserve a Nobel, Cirincione actually describes Obama as having "failed" in his approach to North Korea. Can't recall the last time I heard a conversation between two liberals when both were critical of Obama. Press does get it wrong as to the timing of Obama's Nobel. It was announced in October 2009 that he would receive it, not two months into his presidency. (Obama accepted the award the following December).
It can also be stated with something approaching absolute certainty that Trump will never receive the Nobel Peace Prize, even if North Korea surrenders all if its nuclear weapons, in a manner beyond dispute, and fully reconciles with South Korea and Japan.
Obama is one of four American presidents to receive the peace prize, along with Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Jimmy Carter. Two who should have been awarded but weren't -- Dwight Eisenhower, for his pivotal roles in ending World War II and the Korean War, and Ronald Reagan, who brought the Soviet Union to its knees without firing a shot. Instead, the Nobel was given to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, which was akin to crediting Robert E. Lee for ending the Civil War by surrendering to Grant.