Mike Pompeo’s budget hearing couldn’t have happened on a worse day for American diplomacy. The US secretary of state appeared before the Senate’s Foreign Relations committee today, just after Donald Trump cancelled a much-anticipated summit with North Korea. The news was a blow for US strategy in the region, and a source of humor in the committee room.
As Huffington Post’s Amanda Terkel noted, jokes about the failed summit were exchanged while senators waited for the meeting to begin:
“Good morning, Senator. How are you today?
“I’m alright, how are you? I have a non-refundable ticket to Singapore, what am I going to do with that?”
“Singapore in my view is a rather boring city to go to.”
“Maybe they can turn it into a vacation instead of a summit.”
When the hearing began, the humor turned a little snarkier.
“The art of diplomacy is a lot harder than the art of the deal,” quipped Bob Mendez of New Jersey, ranking member of the committee, referencing the US president’s co-authored book on dealmaking strategy. He went on to describe the White House as naive, and criticized vice president Mike Pence’s inflammatory reference to Libya earlier this week: “It’s pretty amazing that the administration might be shocked that North Korea is acting as North Korea. I’m not sure that constantly quoting the Libya model is the diplomatic way to try to get to the results that we seek in North Korea, because that didn’t work out too well for Gaddafi.”
Ben Cardin of Maryland also couldn’t resist reminding Pompeo of the US’s failure to sign an accord with North Korea. “I would just caution you as far as timing that the record of the senate taking up treaties and passing them is…” he said, trailing off.
Pompeo reportedly responded, “I understand.”