Gov. Jeff Colyer deserves credit for his productive start at the helm of Kansas government. The good news: He’s not Sam Brownback, and he’s demonstrated as much in his more than 100 days in the state’s top job.
But one of Colyer’s latest moves — his unabashed support for giving a Nobel Peace Prize to President Donald Trump — is an embarrassing misstep that smacks of political overreach. Colyer, as you may know, is a candidate for governor this year and is competing against Kris Kobach, the renegade secretary of state, for the job.
Kobach’s ties to the president are well-documented. Before he took office, Trump interviewed Kobach as a candidate for homeland security secretary. While Kobach didn’t land that plum job, he was handed the vice chairmanship of Trump’s Commission on Election Integrity as a consolation prize. The president disbanded the commission in January, but only after Donald Trump Jr. hosted a fundraiser for Kobach in Overland Park.
Colyer can’t compete with those ties to a president who maintains a positive job rating in Kansas of 52 percent approval and 44 percent disapproval. So Colyer did the next best thing this week by hopping aboard the Peace Prize bandwagon.
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Colyer joined six other Republican governors in signing a letter that said the president should get the honor for his “transformative efforts to bring peace to the Korean peninsula.” Let’s be clear: Trump has made undeniable progress in that troubled region of the globe. Such a development was regarded as unthinkable mere months ago when many Americans worried about the possibility of war involving the North Koreans.
But all this Peace Prize talk is wildly premature as the week’s events demonstrated. Just days after Colyer signed the letter, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was threatening to pull out of what would be a historic first meeting between a North Korean leader and a U.S. president. North Korea’s concerns revolved around American insistence on an irreversible decommissioning of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.
At week’s end, Trump was in overdrive as he sought to reassure the North Korean leader through promises of “very strong” protections if Kim stands firm on the deal.
Still, the letter that Colyer and the governors signed could soon be moot. The letter said that even though Trump had been in office for little more than a year, he had “achieved an unprecedented victory for global peace and security.”
Not so fast. Trump surely would benefit from the prestige of an award that previously was presented to Nelson Mandela, Woodrow Wilson and Mother Teresa (though few would argue newly-elected President Barack Obama’s actions merited the honor in 2009).
Colyer can benefit from aligning himself more closely with Trump supporters, who are regarded as motivated voters. But let’s actually get the deal done before we starting handing out prizes.