‘We’ve Had Enough’: Many Conservatives Relish the ‘Fury’ in Trump’s Blunt Talk to North Korea

Eugene Yu, an Army veteran who immigrated from South Korea, at a restaurant in Evans, Georgia. Mr. Yu said he welcomed President Trump’s tough talk on North Korea.
Audra Melton for The New York Times

“Fire and fury”? Eugene Yu could not have said it better himself.

Mr. Yu, 62, who emigrated here from South Korea, is an American citizen, a United States Army veteran and a staunch supporter of President Trump. Like many conservatives in and around this midsize Southern city – home to the Masters golf tournament and an important National Security Agency cryptology center — he was not scared, but rather thrilled this week when President Trump used those exact words to threaten the North Korean government.

That, Mr. Yu said, is the only kind of language a dictatorship understands.

“All of these North Korean experts in Washington — if they are so expert on the North Korean issue, we would have never been dealing with this today,” Mr. Yu said Thursday from his table at a busy Golden Corral cafeteria. “We should have been dealing with this 10 years ago. They’re still saying, ‘We’ve got to have six-party talks, we’ve got to give this, we’ve got to have that.’ We’ve had enough.”

Criticism of Mr. Trump’s emphatic rhetoric came this week from foreign leaders, policy experts, some Washington Republicans, including Senator John McCain of Arizona, and others, who called it a break with decades of carefully measured American diplomatic language in dealing with the volatile situation on the Korean Peninsula. However, what many grass-roots American conservatives heard was not a brash provocation, but a brave and unequivocal calling out of a bully.

That feeling was widespread among dozens of Republicans encountered this week. Many said they were pleased that Mr. Trump was sticking to the kind of blunt, bracing talk that they heard on the campaign trail.

Most of them said they did not relish the idea of any armed confrontation with North Korea, although a few said they felt protected by the vastness of America.

“It doesn’t concern me,” said Zach Lozier, who was tucking into a barbecue dinner with his family Thursday at the Morgan County Fair in Brush, Colo. “We live in the safest part of the whole country.”

But for many, the fact that North Korea has developed an intercontinental ballistic missile that might be able to hit mainland America only underscored their contention that President Trump was right in confronting the Asian nation with tough talk now. And many said they did not think Mr. Trump’s language was necessarily moving the United States any closer to a nuclear confrontation in Asia: The North Korean president, Kim Jong-un, they said, seemed to be doing a fine job of that on his own.

“I believe that this idiot over there is trying to make a name for himself,” said Mr. Yu’s friend Ralph Barbee Jr., 76, a Vietnam veteran and former host of a local fishing show who arrived at the Golden Corral in an S.U.V. adorned with stars, stripes and an enormous photo of Mr. Trump on the hood. “I believe if he fires one more missile, that’s the end for them.”

Mr. Barbee said he thought the president might have been speaking of something less cataclysmic when he initially warned North Korea from his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., earlier this week, like a conventional-weapons strike to take out North Korea’s missile systems.

Many experts say that even a conventional strike comes with many risks, and could set off a bigger confrontation.

On Friday, Mr. Trump doubled down on his warning in subsequent comments, writing on Twitter that the United States military was “locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!”

On Thursday, the conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh praised President Trump on his radio show for his display of machismo, contrasting him with his predecessor, Barack Obama.

“We don’t have a pajama boy who wears mom jeans who can barely throw a baseball, a first pitch, at a Nationals game, as president,” he said. “We have somebody out there who’s no-nonsense, and who’s not going to take this.”

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: NY Times, Richard Fausset