Just when you think the news cycle has become so dank and dismal that you dread turning on your television, along comes a story sure to put the “dip” back in diplomacy. Yes, Dennis Rodman is back in the news and once again it has nothing to do with his legendary prowess on the basketball court. The NBA legend is back in North Korea to visit with his old “friend for life” Kim Jong-un. And while his last trip seemed to result in some sort of forced vacation in a rehab facility, this time he claims that he’s trying to open some doors. (Associated Press)
Former NBA bad boy Dennis Rodman said he is “just trying to open a door” by going to North Korea on Tuesday in his first visit since President Donald Trump took office.
Rodman, who has made several trips to the country, sported a black T-shirt advertising a marijuana cybercurrency as he headed toward immigration at Beijing airport, from where he is expected to fly to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital…
Rodman said the issue of several Americans currently detained by North Korea is “not my purpose right now.”
In Tokyo, a visiting senior U.S. official said Rodman’s trip is as a private citizen.
No trip such as this could possibly take place without the media trying to tie Donald Trump into it somehow. And since we haven’t seen Rodman’s name on the White House guest logs or gotten any photos of him hanging out at Mar-a-Lago recently, the press will probably have to just make it up as they go along. My initial reaction was to suspect that we wouldn’t be able to find anyone to handle a task like that. To which Anna Fifield at the Washington Post responded, “Hold my beer.”
Rodman’s trip has sparked speculation that he may be traveling to free some or all of the four American citizens currently being held by North Korea, perhaps as a first and important step toward lessening tensions between Washington and Pyongyang.
Trump, who had the basketballer on his “Celebrity Apprentice” show twice, has recently called Kim a “smart cookie” and has said he would be “honored” to meet him.
Multiple people involved in unofficial talks with North Korea say that the Trump administration has been making overtures toward the Kim regime, including trying to set up a secret back channel to the North Korean leader using “an associate of Trump’s” rather than the usual line-up of North Korea experts and former officials who talk to Pyongyang’s representatives.
Okay, so Rodman was on Celebrity Apprentice once. But it’s also true that the NBA star hasn’t historically been one to get his marching orders from the Oval office. You’ll recall that during one of his previous trips he told that press that only reason he needed to go meet with Kim was because “Obama can’t do s***” about North Korea. So maybe he’s a bigger fan of Trump than Obama?
It’s 2017 so we can’t rule out anything I suppose, but let’s also keep in mind that Rodman has already overcome the biggest hurdle most people would face in attempting to go visit the diminutive, crackpot dictator. He’s built a relationship and has a standing invitation. He didn’t really need Donald Trump (or anyone else) to make this trip happen.
So is Dennis Rodman actually a secret diplomatic envoy working his magic on behalf of President Trump? The Washington Post seems to think it’s possible, but I’ll let you all decided for yourselves.