According to the New York Times, President Bush has sent a personal letter to Kim Jong-il, the North Korean dictator the president previously called a "tyrant" and a leader of the so-called "Axis of Evil."
In the letter, Mr. Bush reportedly offers North Korea the prospect of normalized relations with the United States in return for North Korea's disclosure of its nuclear programs and the dismantling of its nuclear reactor.
I have mused before about the privileges accorded national political columnists like yours truly. These include dinners with Maureen Dowd and the opportunity to apply scented lubricants to the naked shoulders of blonde Greek Orthodox media celebrities in the privacy of rented bungalows.
But, my friends, these luxuries do not come easy. Every now and then, like Thomas Friedman, I have to produce.
Well, today I have landed what may be my biggest scoop yet.
That's right, dear 23/6 readers, I have obtained a copy of President Bush's personal letter to Kim Jong-il. It was delivered to me late last night by Newsweek editor Jon Meacham, again on the condition that --- dammit!
This could not have been an easy letter for Bush to write. When you've spent six years calling someone the hated enemy of the freedom, asking him to be your friend can be hard. But a personal letter is a good a place as any to start, and I think you'll agree President Bush has done a heckuva job.
The Tyrant Leader Kim Jong-il
Headquarters, Axis of Evil
Pyongyang, North Korea
Merry Christmas! This is your President--George W. Bush--of the United States, writing to you.
We've never met. But I think you know me, from the television and other forms of media, that I understand you have there. Thank you.
I'm writing about this uranium issue you and I have. I mean the uranium, for the nuclear weapons. That's the issue.
As you know, we're at a point where we have an agreement, about the nuclear weapons. And we want to normalize--have normal relations. The United States does. Where we talk. We listen to each other and talk, and work things out. That's what "normal" means. It's the normal way of doing things.
I shouldn't have to explain that.
You see, and I mean no disrespect, but I think there are some things you don't quite understand.
Let me be clear about this: I've watched you in your announcements and so forth. You've made these pronouncements that we've seen. And there are obviously things you may not understand.
That's why I'm writing.
Let me also say that we've called you certain things. Said names, maybe, or they seemed like names. I know that. "Axis of Evil," I think, was one. And also, "tyrant" was another. And other things may have been said.
But the main thing is, that's in the past, see? We may still have differences, don't get me wrong. Everyone has differences. And I don't go back on what I said. But now we're in a new phase, with this letter.
So my message is, we can have norm . . . normalization . . . normalized relations. On certain conditions. I mean the United States and North Korea. And I'm gonna lay those out. They are: 1) full disclosure of North Korea's nuclear plans, and 2) dismantling of their nuclear reactor.
Now, those are the conditions. And you can respond. Ball's in your court. That's an expression we have. Because we've sent this letter. That's the way it works. So we look forward to when you write back.
Laura sends her best wishes for the holidays, also, to the Mrs. Kim Jong-il. She asked me to put that in. We've never met, but she sends her best.
You see, I've learned something in my nearly seven years as President, Mr. Jong-il. We, um, need each other. Or at least, I need you. Badly. So, let's try to work together on this, OK?
I said before, about our conditions, and the reply being your responsibility now.
Thank you again.
George W. Bush