Making History on 2 Sides of the World

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Alex Ovechkin with the Stanley Cup at Nick's Riverside Grill and Tony and Joe's on the Georgetown waterfront June 9. Courtesy Michael Corrigan.

What to do, what to do?

The Russian star or the North Korean supreme leader? Who’s more newsworthy? Ovi and his little kid or Kim Jong Un and his haircut? Which is a bigger deal: the handshake or the raising of the cup?

No question, to most of America’s anchors and opiners, the meeting between and handshakes by American President Donald Trump and old nemesis Kim Jong Un was epochal, historic, unprecedented, a first, a meeting of giants, a game changer, the first step toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula — and after all that rocket firing.

Any other time, I’d be offering my well-thought-out, objective opinion on this matter and the concrete facts, gains, wins and losses which came from that first-ever meeting between a U.S. president and the latest incarnation of a North Korean leader.

I’m not going to do that because, though North Korea made a vague pledge in the short communiqué signed by Trump and Kim to “denuclearize” the Korean peninsula, there was nothing much concrete to report — except a lot of imagery, handshaking and words of astonishing praise for Kim from Trump: phrases like “very talented,” “very smart” and “loves his country” and so forth (some of his relatives, not so much).

Trump and Kim had the national and international stage to themselves, so to speak, not to mention the network news. Lester Holt tried mightily to put the historic stamp on the meeting, and maybe clinch a Nobel prize for Trump (and Kim?).

But here in Washington, D.C., if you mentioned Kim Jong Un on Tuesday, June 12, you might have gotten the reply: “Does he play for the Golden Knights?”

Tuesday was just about the worst day to run naked down the street, hold primary elections, get one lousy run — in the case of the Washington Nationals — or hold a historic summit in Singapore. That’s because there was a parade for the Washington Capitals, the Ted Leonsis-owned hockey team that ripped through the NHL playoffs and took out the Las Vegas Golden Knights in five to win … the Stanley Cup.

Yes. That was that shiny thing bearded guys with missing teeth were carrying around all over town, including at Café Milano in Georgetown. And on Tuesday, while Trump and Kim were promising to work on denuclearization, shaking historic hands, flattering each other on the heels of Trump picking a fight with Canada, this town went sort of nuts and wonderfully woozy with a parade, a busload or three of Caps and kids and Ted and Ovi and Oshie, as well as hyperventilating local-media types.

While the events in Singapore seemed staged within an inch of having few vital signs, the events in Washington — where “a sea of red” was mentioned by television reporters 2,899 times by one count — seemed authentically joyful, probably fueled a little by Budweiser. Washington at long last had a championship trophy won by the most international of teams, made up of Russians, Swedes and sundry others, including a star Canadian player of African descent, Devante Smith-Pelly.

If you were looking for authentic history being made, you didn’t have to go to the other side of the world. You could and should have stayed right here in Washington.

As far as Singapore and the historic summit, the future awaits the results. President Trump did cancel, for now, future military and regularly scheduled military exercises with South Korea.

Congress was for the most part quiet. (Do we even have a Congress?) After all, there’s an election coming up in November.

Tuesday, they weren’t selling many “Make America Great Again” T-shirts. They were singing “We Are the Champions” from buses.

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