Will he lose it in Helsinki?
I can't believe I'm quoting George Will but his take on the upcoming summit in light of Trump's performance in North Korea is worth noting:
The most dangerous moment of the Trump presidency will arrive when he, who is constantly gnawed by insecurities and the fear of not seeming what he is not (“strong”), realizes how weak and childish he seems to all who cast a cool eye on Singapore’s aftermath. The danger is of him lashing out in wounded vanity.
Meanwhile, this innocent abroad is strutting toward a meeting with the cold-eyed Russian who is continuing to dismantle one of Europe’s largest nations, Ukraine. He is probably looking ahead to ratcheting up pressure on one of three small nations, Lithuania, Latvia or Estonia, each a member of the NATO alliance that, for the first time in its 69 years, is dealing with a U.S. president who evinces no admiration for what it has accomplished or any understanding of its revived importance as the hard man in Moscow, who can sniff softness, relishes what Singapore revealed.
I think Trump lashing out in wounded vanity is a danger, of course. We all wonder what happens on the day Trump realizes he's been played. But I'm beginning to wonder if that will ever happen. So far, it seems that Trump is living in his own bubble in which everything he does is brilliant, genius, unprecedented. In his mind (or perhaps just in his sales strategy) he cannot lose.
I agree that he's an insecure man who is deeply afraid of being seen as weak. But his way of dealing with that is to simply assert strongly that he isn't. Sure he's constantly whining like a six year old that everything is "unfair" and he casts blame constantly. But I don't see evidence that he has the guts to actually turn on someone he sees as stronger than he is and truly test his power that way. Bullies don't go after people who are bigger than the are.
I'd guess the most likely outcome of the next two weeks will be Trump pounding on the Europeans whom he sees as his vassals and kissing up to Putin whom he sees ... differently.(Blackmailer?, Co-conspirator? Superior? Hero? All of the above?)
Whatever comes of the summit, he will just spin as a great victory for America and his followers will clap like the trained seals they are.
But sure, there's always the chance that he's going to test his power in a truly dangerous way. I think the whole world is holding its breath, hoping against hope that day doesn't come.