Watching George Stephanopoulos' revenge of the nerd-style interview with Dennis Rodman on This Week, I was struck by the devastating common sense wisdom the five-time NBA Champion brought to his role as an accidental international diplomat when he spent time with North Korean supreme leader Kim Jung Un.
Rodman spoke and Stephanopoulos didn't listen -- George instead chose to talk down to Rodman and shove a Human Rights Watch report at him -- but what Dennis said could have come from Ronald Reagan -- that the exportation of American culture and ideals could be an effective tool in shaping the views of a young dictator.
"The kid is only 28 years old. Twenty-eight," Rodman said. "He's not his dad. Not his grandpa. He's 28 years old." While Stephanopoulos quizzed Rodman on what the Hall of Fame defender knew about Kim's "threats to destroy the U.S." (which Kim has never explicitly made), Rodman answered, "[Kim said] 'I don't want to do war.' He said that to me."
One goal of diplomacy is to talk to international leaders who do not share our values, and bring them around to our way of thinking. North Korea desperately needs that. Would Stephanopoulos have had the mendacity or naivety to ask Reagan why he spoke to a Gorbachev who had spent years hiding political prisoners? And may I delicately suggest that the man who was a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, and also spent intimate moments with both Carmen Electra and Madonna, might understand the human psyche in a more nuanced way than George Stephanopoulos could? Rodman represents a unique and enviable realization of the American Dream--and here, the same could be said of Stephanopoulos--he's a kid who grew up with nothing whose hard work took him everywhere and showed him all the coolest things in the world In other words, everything a sheltered young dictator might daydream about while dozing off at yet another State Choir performance. Does Rodman have to wait until Daniel Day Lewis plays him in a Spielberg movie before people admit that he might just know something about bridge building?
"I don't condone him... he came to me as a human being... He wants Obama to call him," Rodman said. And as improper and inappropriate as that request might be, is it so impossible that on some soju soaked night in Pyongyang in the not too distant future, diplomat-at-large Rodman might say to his new friend, "Hey Kim, I don't know about all this politics and what not, but why don't you pick up the phone and call Obama? And then we'll call Carmen Electra."