What's really happening between the U.S. and North Korea? The art of the deal may be in progress. President Trump's 1987 book may hold some major insight. (Ballantine Books)

A diplomatic breakthrough between the United States and North Korea has stalled for the time being, prompting alarm, scorn and glee among President Trump[1]’s critics. But wait. Seasoned observers know that diplomacy is a work in progress, full of tweaks and maneuvers. Deals often follow the same trajectory. Is it time to consult Mr. Trump[2]’s 1987 book “The Art of the Deal” to figure out which strategic tactic the president could be using here? Maybe.

It is telling that the White House instantly released the abrupt but remarkably worded letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to the public — and it was instantly parsed for language, tone and intent by a breathless press. Interest is now intense. Curiosity and speculation are rampant, drama is in the air.

Is deal-making in motion? Let us go back to 1987 for insight.

“Deals are my art form,” Mr. Trump[3] said in his famous book. “Other people paint beautifully on canvas or write wonderful poetry. I like making deals. Preferably big deals. That’s how I get my kicks. Most people are surprised by the way I work. I play it very loose. I don’t carry a briefcase. I try no to schedule too many meetings. I leave my door open.”

Though written 31 years ago, that candid statement reveals that some Trump[4] artistry may be afoot as the planet awaits a decision: Will the pair meet? Jittery diplomats, an intrigued public and the critical news media want to know. Chances are, they won’t have to wait to long for the big reveal.

Meanwhile, a few headlines to get us started.

“Donald Trump[5]’s war against himself leads to North Korea summit cancellation” (CNN); “Trump[6] writes Kim Jong-un epic letter cancelling upcoming summit” (Townhall.com); “North Korea summit nixed, Trump[7]’s diplomacy flops” (Washington Post); “Trump[8] may have given Kim an offer he dare not refuse” (The Hill); “Was Trump[9] boxed in by the North Koreans?” (CBS); “Why ‘deal-maker’ Trump[10] found meeting Kim Jong-un a challenge too far” (The Telegraph); “Market slides on new Trump[11] is cancelling” (NBC); “Pelosi, Dems mock Trump[12] for pulling out of summit” (Fox News).


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