John McCain recently went on MSNBC and called Kim Jong Un a "crazy fat kid," and North Korea is taking it pretty well. Just kidding—the country's Foreign Ministry put out a statement calling McCain's words a "grave provocation little short of declaration of war." The statement says Pyongyang "will take steps to counter" McCain's words, which hurt the country's "dignity," the Daily Intelligencer reports. The statement went on to call McCain and fellow senator Ted Cruz (North Korea is mad at him because he wants to re-list the country as a state sponsor of terrorism) the equivalent of puppies who have "no fear of the tiger." "The revolutionary forces of the DPRK with its nuclear force for as its pivot will ... [deal] a merciless sledge-hammer blow at those daring [to] hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership," the statement reads.
McCain's response, on Twitter: "What, did they want me to call him a crazy skinny kid?" But at the Washington Post, Anna Fifield doesn't think McCain should be so smug. It's not only wrong but dangerous to peg Kim as crazy, she writes, citing North Korea experts. The fact that his family's regime is still in power is just part of the evidence that Kim is not the joke many make him out to be; he has stayed in power in part by purging elites who are disloyal and keeping the rest in fear that they could be next. The bottom line remains that North Korea has nukes, and Kim "has overseen steady improvements" in the country's missile program. He may want his enemies to think he's crazy, a strategy that has been employed by leaders from Machiavelli to Richard Nixon, but to actually believe that could be "playing into his hands." (Read more John McCain stories.)