This is what it has come to.
In 72 years, we’ve gone from the triumvirate of Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt to Trump, Kim and Rodman.
Yes, you may have thought we had heard the last of former NBA player and provocateur Dennis Rodman, but he’s back. This time, he wants President Trump to know he has a “secret plan” that will bring peace with North Korea.
Utahns who have lived here a while might have an interesting perspective on Rodman. They might remember the days when he roamed the streets of Salt Lake City with his then-girlfriend, Madonna. News reports chronicled this as far back as the playoffs of 1994. Back then, as the Deseret News reported, the rebounding king left “a trail of uneventful sightings ” around town. Utahns worried most of all that he might disrupt Karl Malone’s game on the court.
But then, in the 1997 NBA Finals between the Jazz and the Chicago Bulls, the NBA fined Rodman $50,000 for making disparaging comments about Mormons. Rodman eventually apologized, saying he didn’t know they were part of a religion.
His coach, Phil Jackson, tried to explain the confusion. "To Dennis, a Mormon may be a nickname for people from Utah," he told The New York Times.
That’s not exactly the sort of mistake you would like a future international diplomat and peace envoy to make. But then, it’s safe to say few people back then foresaw the day when Rodman would believe the fate of the planet rested in his hands.
“If I can go back over there you’ll see me talking to him (Kim), and sitting down and having dinner, a glass of wine, laughing and doing my thing. I guess things will settle down a bit and everybody can rest at ease,” Rodman told the Guardian on Monday.
Rodman may be worried about going “back over there” because the Trump administration has banned all U.S. travel to North Korea after Kim’s regime released U.S. student Otto Warmbier in critical condition earlier this year. Warmbier died soon after.
Rodman has, of course, forged a friendship with Kim during several trips to North Korea during recent years, which generally was not appreciated by the Obama administration.
Rodman’s antics would be little more than an insignificant sideshow, except that Trump gave the former basketball player some credence back when Rodman was President Obama’s problem. In 2013, he called Rodman “smart” for visiting with Kim. He said, “Maybe Dennis is a lot better than what we have,” which was a not-so-subtle dig at Obama.
Back then, Rodman said Obama ought to call Kim to work things out. Trump agreed, saying that perhaps a phone call would be a good thing.
“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.”
Now Rodman is asking Trump to make him a peace envoy to North Korea.
"I’ve been trying to tell Donald since day one: ‘Come talk to me, man I’ll tell you what the Marshal wants more than anything. It’s not even that much,'" Rodman told the Guardian.
“The Marshal” is Rodman’s pet name for Kim.
So, how will Trump respond?
Rodman said Kim is a Frank Sinatra fan. The Marshal likes The Chairman.
That may explain why Kim seems to like sending a message to U.S. presidents that, “I’ve got you under my skin.”
Rodman, however, seems only intent on doing things, “My way.”
And, as Utahns know, his perceptions may not always represent the most accurate assessment of a situation.