And the media did not waste time declaring it not only a failed summit but a personal failure for President Trump and his freewheeling form of diplomacy.
Many of the negative reviews are valid, but I want to tell the President:
He walked away from a bad deal.
He knew that Kim Jong Un had asked too much in concessions, and instead of making a flawless deal because of positive headlines, he canceled a scheduled signing ceremony.
In fact, there were stories in the press saying that Trump aides was worried that he wanted a deal too bad that he could give away the store that Mike Pompeo didn't want him to spend too much time alone with Kim. If these concerns were real, the president showed that they were misplaced.
"We decided we had to go," Trump said.
This made it possible for television to quickly return to cover the story it really loves, the Michael Cohen hearings, which continued behind closed doors yesterday after Wednesday's TV extravaganza.
But the big mistake in the president's approach is to come to the negotiations as if he wanted a hotel deal in New York with the highest confidence in his ability to win someone over.
Trump's personal approach, spoken of his "love" for Kim, means he is the first US president to sit down with a North Korean dictator. But successful summits are generally dependent on the bids being pre-cooked through difficult discussions by diplomats and experts, and leaders coming in to bless the end product. Summitter may fail – as happened with Reagan and Gorbachev – but you need intense preparation to take a shot at making the deal.
Trump's strategy was very risky and therefore the negotiations struck. Kim finished doing what he and his family's predecessors have always done, making empty promises and never delivering the goods.
Pyongyang wanted total relief from US sanctions in exchange for shutting down a major nuclear power plant, but not other parts of its program, including hidden facilities. And it would have been a complete surrender of US leverage.
A Washington Post story Trump said he was "humiliated by his inability to assemble an irregular and backward dictator to abandon his arsenal" and that this was "a setback for a president who has invested more than a year in cultivating a friendship with Kim. "
Another post said that the sudden end "without a future meeting date or a plan for the future postponed the vulnerabilities to rely on Trump's and Kim's personal report to resolve disputes."
The New York Times said the meeting "ended in shambles" and "emphasized the risk of leader-to-leader diplomacy: when it fails, there are few places to go, no higher than going in and cutting a compromise that saves the deal." The story even said that if Kim stepped up on his nuclear production, Trump could turn from his talk of "love" to "fire and rage" the rhetoric of his earlier attack on "Little Rocket Man".
And in terms of scorekeeping, according to politico"It was more than an isolated diplomatic strikeout. It was the latest demoralizing episode in a month-long lost streak that threatens its presidency."
Trump also took a little heat to free Kim from the death of the American prisoner Otto Warmbier, saying that Korean prisons are rough and he does not believe the dictator knew it – not the first time he accepted the word from a foreign strong man.
Much of the criticism is so well-deserved. But there is one thing that still botheres me.
David Plouffe, a tall White House aide to Barack Obama, tweeted: "It is appropriate that Trump was humiliated in Hanoi."
I don't think the president's critics should twist for him to fail to fight one of the world's greatest nuclear threats. After all, a successful deal would have been good for America.