To his credit in his New York Times column today Frank Bruni breaks ranks with some of his anti-Trump colleagues. In reaction to some of the more rhapsodic characterizations of North Korea’s leader’s younger sister, Kim Yo-jong’s performance as a spectator at the Winter Olympics:
The response to North Korea’s overtures at the Olympics was epitomized by what quickly became a popular characterization of Kim Yo-jong. South Korean journalists called her “North Korea’s Ivanka.” Straight-faced American journalists repeated it.
I get it. Both young women attempt to put a pretty, pert face on a clan — and a government — of transcendent ugliness. Both decided to do that in the context of triple axels and the luge. Ivanka is due in South Korea for the closing ceremony.
But not all ugliness is created equal, Donald Trump is not Kim Jong-un, the United States is nothing like North Korea and to come anywhere near that suggestion is nuts. Be outraged about what’s going on in America. Don’t be ridiculous.
In doing her father’s bidding, Ivanka Trump is trying to tell the world that a sexist really wants to empower women, that a racist really cares about equal opportunity and that a narcissistic plutocrat is acting in the high-minded interests of the little people. She’s willfully delusional, totally complicit and compiling one hell of an Instagram feed, which is what she’s ultimately all about.
In doing her brother’s bidding, Kim Yo-jong is airbrushing a dictator who authorizes public executions that, according to defectors, must be watched by all adult citizens, so that they can savor the wages of disobedience. She is diverting attention from his roles in the murders of his half brother, who was smeared with a fatal toxin while walking through an airport, and of many senior government officials, slaughtered in grotesque ways. Is it any wonder that she’s making the effort? The alternative, apparently, is being drawn and quartered.
That should get him disinvited from some cocktail parties.