No one likes a job performance review. In North Korea, it appears an employee under scrutiny needs to get his affairs in order.
The story circulated late last week that a North Korean envoy who had been involved in talks with the United States to denuclearize the Asian country has been executed by his government.
This happened in the aftermath of a summit where the two nations left without an agreement.
The price for a bad meeting, at least for a diplomat named Kim Hyok Chol, is a Pyongyang firing squad.
So at least the United States, for all its governmental dysfunction, has that going for it. To date, the nation hasn’t rounded up State Department workers for sub-par dispatch of their duties and sent them to their maker.
True, they get hauled before lawmakers focused on good sound bites and scolded before congressional committees. But they later go home for dinner.
This sort of torture has collateral damage in American households, but normal folks can escape by simply shutting off their electronic devices. A price comes with being disconnected, including broader damage to democratic ideas, but personal redemption might arrive in a more hopeful attitude.
Americans have enough evidence compiled over the last five months — with a Republican president, a Democratic House majority and a Republican Senate majority — to know that sweeping acts of statesmanship will not take place.
Sure, budgets will be considered and appropriations will be made. Trillions of dollars will come into the federal treasury, and trillions of dollars will go out. The country will be defended, and that remains no small thing.
But the business of moving ahead as a nation, of taking steps of far-reaching good, seems to be beyond our grasp.
To be clear, there will be measures approved by Congress and signed by President Trump that benefit the lives of Americans, a few that right some wrong or reverse an unintended consequence or modify a deviation from common sense.
Bipartisanship can be mustered in the short run for any number of corrections to an unwieldy set of federal laws.
But big things — working toward stabilizing programs like Social Security, hammering out a workable plan of immigration reform and border security, having a rational debate about climate science — feel like big rocks to be pushed up steep hills.
This country should be capable of such solutions. But those in Washington appear capable only of adopting, say, a national gesture: the shrugged shoulder.
The 535 people elected to Congress have some serious smarts on their side. And most got into public service out of a genuine desire to do good things.
They also have ambitions for higher office and lobbyists in their ear and donors to appease.
No better example of policy-making deficiencies can be found than the very public destruction of plans for a large infrastructure program. The need exists, all involved agree. The United States has let its physical self degrade. The fix requires a bold stroke.
A Democratic leader accuses the president of covering up wrongdoing, and the president abruptly leaves a meeting. The Democratic leader suggests an intervention for the president. So, that’s that.
The American people might suggest an intervention for all involved. After all, they serve on the public payroll.
As mentioned, no one is being lined up and shot for failures in handling the business of state, a small blessing in a difficult time. Hooray for us! USA! USA!