Is it IHOP or IHOB?
Do they serve pancakes or hamburgers?
Is it status quo with North Korea or are they on the road to denuclearization?
Is this a path to peace or a path to peril?
Deal or no deal?
No one is precisely sure what went down in Singapore between President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
It looked good. But as for the particulars….
The brouhaha over whether IHOP/IHOB slings pancakes or burgers offers acute insight into this week’s international conclave. Perhaps it was just the mother of all photo ops. Marketing genius. A breakthrough of historic proportion.
Or maybe nothing’s really new.
“It is difficult to determine what of concrete nature has occurred,” mused Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R- Tenn., of the summit.
“The entire document is short on details,” protested Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., about the joint missive signed by the President and Kim. “In 1994 and 2005, those negotiations yielded agreements that were in fact much more rigorous than the communique issued by President Trump and Chairman Kim. This communique lists denuclearization as a far-off goal but includes no details about a pathway to achieving it.”
In other words, President Trump and Chairman Kim may be marketing cheeseburgers. But in reality, they could just be flipping pancakes, per usual, on the diplomatic griddle.
Pass the maple syrup.
And, it had better not be maple syrup from America’s newest archenemy, Canada.
One thing IHOP won’t become is the “International House of Poutine.”
By the way, did a Canadian team win the Stanley Cup this year? Or was it an American club which plays in downtown Washington, DC just blocks from the White House?
Still, the Washington Capitals victory didn’t prevent Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., from parading onto the House floor, rocking a Vegas Golden Knights jersey under his sport coat Tuesday night…even though Washington vanquished Vegas.
Questions linger after the conflagration between President Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week at the G-7 in Quebec. If America isn’t getting along with its G-7 allies, is NATO in trouble too?
This may be connected to the IHOP discord.
IHOP stood for “International House of Pancakes.” Now it’s the “International House of Burgers?” How “international” will this burger menu be? How “international” was IHOP’s breakfast menu to start with? French crepes. Belgian waffles. German pancakes. International, sure. French. Belgian. German. That sounds like the NATO House of Pancakes.
Despite burgers annexing the menu, you can still order an omelet at IHOP/B. And in order to secure a good trade deal with Canada, consider the culinary advice dished up by Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., about the disagreement between Trump and Trudeau.
“Sometimes to make an omelet you’ve got to break a few eggs. Now that doesn't mean you have to break the eggs and kill the chicken and the rooster. You just need to break a few eggs. But sometimes you have to do that to get progress,” said Kennedy.
If you’re Trudeau, you learned the penalty for crossing the American President.
“There's a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump,” said White House trade adviser Peter Navarro on Fox News Sunday.
Navarro later apologized.
“I understand ‘a special place in hell,’” said Kennedy. “But I don't understand the context in which it was said. Sometimes people disagree. I don't think that makes you go to hell. I hope not.”
A nuclear disarmament deal. A trade dispute. A menu in crisis.
This trifecta is connected.
People are up in arms over the decision by IHOP/B to switch its name because they’re emotionally attached to the old name. The sight of an American President huddling with an absolute dictator evokes raw emotion. Trade is an emotional issue. It’s about “shipping jobs overseas.” That’s why many lawmakers are irate that President Trump told off Trudeau.
The late House Speaker Tip O’Neill, D-Mass., proclaimed that “all politics is local.” But, perhaps all politics is emotion. It doesn’t matter if you’re discussing foreign policy or the bill of fare at a restaurant. Emotion seizes all. That’s why it’s hard to size up what’s really happening – or whether it’s good or bad.
So, what happened in Singapore?
“We had a lot of sizzle but not a lot of steak,” said Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee.
And for the record, steak and eggs are on the IHOP/B menu.
“No promises have been made,” said Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., about North Korea. “It’s a very important first step. A very small step. But in the right direction.”
“There are no details in this press release,” proclaimed Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del. “To call it an agreement would be dignifying it for details that are utterly lacking.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., says Congress must review and bless a potential accord with North Korea. The Kentucky Republican says he hopes “it takes the form of a treaty.”
A proposed “treaty” would require the administration submit something tangible to Capitol Hill.
Republicans and some Democrats criticized the Obama administration over the Iran nuclear deal. President Obama didn’t formally submit the pact to Capitol Hill as a treaty. But Corker devised a legislative framework for both the House and Senate to consider the agreement.
Under the Constitution, a treaty is a different enterprise. The Senate must ratify such a deal with a two-thirds vote.
But, lawmakers appear to be giving the President a pass on trade policy despite talking a good game. As a result, Corker lashed out at his colleagues. The Senate Republican brass blocked Corker from offering an amendment entailing Congressional oversight when a President invokes “national security” when imposing tariffs as Mr. Trump did with Canada.
“Ready, fire, aim! Ready, fire, aim!” thundered Corker about what he considers a slapdash approach by the Trump Administration.
The Tennessee Republican upbraided fellow senators for their subservience to the President, even though most publicly fretted that tariffs will wound the nation economically.
“We might poke the bear,” chastised Corker. “We can’t do that because we’d be upsetting the President of the United States! The President of the United States! I can’t believe it!”
Again, we’re back to emotion.
So, will senators require President Trump to submit a North Korea nuclear accord to the Senate for ratification? Will they do so if, as Corker suggests, they aren’t even willing to challenge the President on trade?
Are lawmakers serving pancakes or hamburgers?
It’s as clear as ordering the “Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity.”