Speed Reads

Trump-Kim Summit

What Trump could learn from Nixon's meeting with Mao

President Trump reportedly decided to take an "unstructured" approach to preparation for his Tuesday summit in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — which is to say, he's gonna wing it. But as the president is still in transit from his hotel to the meeting as of this writing, he has time to borrow a play from former President Richard Nixon and take some crib notes.

When Nixon met with China's Mao Zedong in 1972, The New York Times notes, he went in armed with a few handwritten reminders. There were four sections on his list: What they want, what we want, what we both want, and how to treat him. All four were short and to the point, but the final section may offer the most fascinating look inside Nixon's historic diplomatic trip:

Treat him (as Emperor)

1. Don’t quarrell [sic]2. Don’t praise him (too much)3. Praise the people — art, ancient.4. Praise poems.5. Love of country. [President Nixon, via The New York TImes]

Were Trump to take a page from Nixon's playbook, he could make a similarly brief page of notes to stay on track in his negotiations. For how to treat Kim, the Times advises, Trump could write reminders like "Praise friendship with Dennis Rodman" and, crucially, "Don’t talk about Libya."

Read more about Nixon's notes and their modern analogue here.