Dennis Rodman's sojourn to North Korea may have displeased those who take issue with Kim Jong-Un's commitment to prison camps and expressed desire to destroy America, but he's found support from at least one sympathetic countryman: Donald Trump.
Trump's enthusiasm came, of course, in the form of a promotion tour for The Celebrity Apprentice on Fox and Friends this morning. Politico notes the key exchange:
“You look at the world, the world is blowing up around us. Maybe Dennis is a lot better than what we have,” Trump said of Rodman, who is also a contestant on Trumps’ “Celebrity Apprentice” on NBC, on Fox News on Monday.
He continued: “It’s not an act. but he’s a much different guy and this year on the apprentice — it’s amazing how sharp and smart. Dennis is not a stupid guy. He’s smart in many ways, he’s very street wise.”
If there's anyone who knows and respects the code of the streets, it's Donald Trump.
By "what we have", it's safe to assume, Trump is referring to President Obama. He's never been a fan of the president, even suggesting that the president's reelection was "a total sham and a travesty" — on election night, on Twitter, he said that opponents of Obama should "fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice!" It's a sentiment that would be appreciated by Kim Jong-Un's grandfather Kim Il-Sung, who fought like hell to establish a communist North Korea.
The State Department has been more pessimistic about Rodman's newfound role as statesman. As The Times reported this weekend, the government isn't interested in debriefing Rodman — the only American to have met the new North Korean leader face-to-face.
Despite questions about the trip and whether the government would debrief Mr. Rodman on his return, a department spokesman, Patrick Ventrell, did not suggest a visit to Foggy Bottom was in the offing.
“We haven’t been in touch with this party at all,” he told reporters Thursday, leaving out Mr. Rodman’s name. “If there are Americans who after traveling in North Korea want to get in touch with us or have something to share with us, we take the phone calls.”
Kim takes phone calls, too, according to Rodman. In an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, Rodman indicated that Kim asked him to suggest to the president that he pick up the phone.
Bloomberg cites the relevant portion:
Rodman … quoted Kim as saying “If you can, Dennis -- I don’t want to do war.”
Kim, Rodman said, “loves basketball. And I said the same thing, I said ‘Obama loves basketball.’ Let’s start there.”
"Hello, Jong-Un? Barack. I heard you like basketball."
Trump thinks this makes sense. Again from Politico:
“Maybe that is not the worst thing, folks, instead of going through this whole charade we do every year,” Trump said on Fox News. “Maybe it’s not the worst thing that somebody actually calls, because you look at this world — this world is just blowing up around us.”
He added: “We are doing nothing. you know, maybe it’s not such a bad idea. It’s not a very big deal to make a phone call.”
As this random person on Twitter noted (earning Trump's retweet) the mogul's demonstrable political savvy may help with his future ambitions.
Rodman's role as interlocutor and peacemaker, meanwhile, is a new one. While in the NBA, he was known for his aggression, and in 2011 indicated that he'd never had a conversation with teammates Michael Jordan or Scottie Pippen. Sometimes picking up that phone is hard, even with basketball in common.
Watch Trump's full exchange on Rodman here: