September 20th, 2017

On Trump’s calling Kim “Rocket Man” at the UN

Some think it was a brilliant move to expose North Korea’s Dear Leader to ridicule and give him a nickname that might stick. Some think it was another sign of Trump’s abominable lack of decorum. Some think it was some combination of the two.

I wonder if the same people so down on Trump for the decorum breach would have said the same thing about Khrushchev when he banged his shoe on the table as Philippine delegate Lorenzo Sumulong spoke at the UN in 1960 (see this for whether he actually banged it or just brandished it). Or, how about when Arafat wore a gun (or at least a holster) while giving his first speech at that august body? Arafat said he came “bearing an olive branch and a freedom fighter’s gun” and he raised his arms to display the holster/gun he was wearing. Nice touch, no?

I’m not comparing Trump to either Khrushchev or Arafat. What he said was relatively mild, actually. I’m bringing the other two up because the criticism of Trump’s calling Kim “Rocket Man” had to do with the idea of tone, of respect for the UN and its diplomatic traditions.

My response is: what decorum? The UN is an ineffective forum for much of anything except various grandstanding moves, either by third-world nations or first-world nations. Why give a man such as Kim any respect there? It’s not as though he’ll respond positively to respect, either. So far he’s been treated with respect by US presidents and has responded by going about his merry way, unimpeded.

In connection writing this post, I wondered whether Churchill had ever ridiculed or mocked Hitler, or given him a derisive name. By the time the following example occurred, England and Germany were at war:

“Guttersnipe” is a word you don’t hear too much anymore. It is defined as “a scruffy and badly behaved child who spends most of their time on the street.”

[ADDENDUM: The war of Elton John lyrics.]

21 Responses to “On Trump’s calling Kim “Rocket Man” at the UN”

  1. zat Says:

    Kim and his friend for life Dennis “the menace” Rodman may laugh together about “rocket man”.
    Then they can both discuss trajectories and how to strike from the distance.

  2. Dave Says:

    Why didn’t Trump just call him fat bastard?

  3. AMartel Says:

    It’s kind of rat packy, calling him “Rocket Man”. Trumpian, which I don’t view as a bad thing. The name’s not an insult, it’s the forgetting/not bothering to call him by his real name and making up a jokey moniker for him. Also, it leaves open the possibility that he (Kim) can correct himself and we can all laugh about this later. Rocket Man, you really gave us a rash there for a while!

  4. neo-neocon Says:


    That’ll be in Trump’s next address to the UN.

  5. Paul in Boston Says:

    Should have called him Rocket Boy instead.

    Guttersnipe is good. Hilter used to make speeches calling Churchill an alcoholic and drunkard, which was sort of true. He was never drunk but consumed vast quantities of alcohol during the starting with Champagne at breakfast and finishing up with brandy at night.

  6. neo-neocon Says:

    Paul in Boston:

    Some alcoholic! Some drunkard!

  7. I R A Darth Aggie Says:

    I call Kim Whoa, Fat! Stole that from the ace of spades blog. One of the COBs coined/stole that. It’s a tip of the hat to Hawaii 5-0 show from the 60s and their recurring villain Wo Fat.

  8. Ann Says:

    I’m waiting to hear what Elton John has to say about Trump’s use of “Rocket Man”.

  9. tom swift Says:

    “Rocket man” is a description, not a judgment. It’s a unique label which makes it very clear to even the most disengaged listener exactly why the fat guy is worth discussing at all.

    “Fat bastard” would be a judgment, and arguably has no useful place at the UN lectern.

    And if Elton John complains about it (which he won’t), he can take it up with the late great Ray Bradbury.

  10. Griffin Says:

    If we’re being technical it should be Bernie Taupin not Elton John as Taupin wrote the words to ‘Rocket Man’ as he did to most of Elton John’s early hits.

  11. Montage Says:

    I have no problem with Trump calling Kim ‘Rocket Man’ or anything else. The one issue I have with the speech was the line where he said: “…we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

    Couple problems with that. First, there is always a choice. Second, North Korea and South Korea are full of civilians who would be killed or deeply affect if we totally destroyed North Korea. [Seoul is 35 miles from the NK border] I think as pure rhetoric it might scare Kim. But most likely it would not. Therefore, it comes across as more bellicose and saber rattling posturing than it does as diplomatic or an actual workable strategy.

    Of course, all governments need to plan for such scenarios. But if, for instance, someone said they would do the same to the US we would – rightly – freak out. I don’t want to drag millions of civilians into the battle between Kim and Trump. If we have no choice then that really would be tragic. Let’s hope we never choose to destroy a country.

  12. neo-neocon Says:

    The war of Elton John lyrics.

  13. steve walsh Says:

    Kim is undeserving of respect and decorum.

  14. blert Says:

    Montage Says:
    September 20th, 2017 at 4:59 pm

    It’s too late for conventional military means WRT Kim’s ICBM ‘project.’

    It’s destined to be an atomic war.

    Be of no doubt.

    Oriental politicians just CAN’T back down. It’s a cultural ‘thing.’

    It’s this tic that caused Harry Truman to unleash the atom upon Japan.

    Even at that point, MANY IJN generals wanted to try banzai one more time. Which is why McArthur had to conduct ceremonies upon the battleship Missouri. Even at that hour, pilots wanted to kamikazi themselves. (!) They were prevented — at the airport.

    Further, out of sight, a tremendous air armada was providing Combat Air Patrol. Shortly after the signing, the US flew over Tokyo for three-hours straight — at low altitude. ( taking laps ) This fly-over is now largely forgotten by history… edited out of the big day, 9-3-45.

  15. om Says:


    “Oriental politicians just CAN’T back down. It’s a cultural ‘thing.’”

    Until they are forced to back down. Something about your own comment illustrates that; that would be Hirohito, the Emperor of Japan. And while many in the IJA and IJN chose suicide it wasn’t 100%. I’m not so sure that the “Oriental’ thing is foolproof either, something about cultural differences that exist in that huge segment of the world’s population.

    Just sayin.

  16. blert Says:

    Kim has got himself in such a bind… with his mouth… with his dogma… that his associates figure to assassinate him if he ‘strays.’

    This reality HAS to be the motivation for whacking his half-brother.

    As of Xi, he has to be furious with Kim, who is aligned with the ‘out’ faction within the Chinese Communist Party — the one that Xi has been spending all of his time kicking to the curb.

    It’s only been this year, the last few months, that Xi has slotted his crew entirely across the top of the Red Chinese military. This is most significant since it has ALWAYS been that the PLA was Kim’s primary sponsor within the CCP.

    One by one, Kim’s Chinese buddies are being turfed out.

    It’s also of significance that the moment Xi got his own military crew in — the Red Chinese banks stopped permitting new North Korean accounts — and are only letting existing accounts the privilege of withdrawals.

    Kim is going to have to fly gold to Tehran to pay his bills… or ship atomic warheads.

    Trump would love to crack down on Iran — but that figures to scupper any negotiations with Kim.

    It’s a first class mess that Barry gifted Donald.

  17. Ymar Sakar Says:

    The Emperor of Japan was not in charge of the expansionist policy of Japanese Co Prosperity Sphere. That was due mostly to the political power of the army, which became a Junta.

    The militaristic nationalists did indeed refuse to back down, but only because of one issue: the fate of their Emperor. It took their own Emperor to cut that Gordian Knot.

  18. Ymar Sakar Says:


  19. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Asians are no more monolithic in their outlook than blacks, Africans, Americans, are. They just look like they are.

    The same way America looks like intentinally selling weapons to ISIL via Benghazi and Qatar and Turkey, while pretending to fight them in Syria and Iraq. To outsiders, this looks like a unified policy.

    To insiders, we know that there’s a whole lot more going on than American righteousness and justice in the pursuit of national interests.

  20. Ymar Sakar Says:

    The name’s not an insult, it’s the forgetting/not bothering to call him by his real name and making up a jokey moniker for him.

    Martel is pretty close there, on Trum.

    Kim is known as a boy short of not just one, but two pieces. His father was insane, so he is the son of an insane criminal. And two, he himself is only put into power by his clan and dynastic power.

    It’s similar to the bit about crazy black neurosurgeon that was with Trum in the primary. Or Ted Cruz’s father being involved with killing JFK.

    Alinsky did not come up with his methods by himself.

  21. Ley Lines in the Labyrinth - American Digest Says:

    […]  On Trump’s calling Kim ”Rocket Manâ” at the UN The criticism of Trump’s calling Kim “Rocket Man” had to do with the idea of tone, of respect for the UN and its diplomatic traditions. My response is: what decorum? The UN is an ineffective forum for much of anything except various grandstanding moves, either by third-world nations or first-world nations. Why give a man such as Kim any respect there? […]

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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