Dennis Rodman isn’t exactly ambassador material.
The basketball badboy created waves after hanging out with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un during a trip with the Harlem Globetrotters last week. Rodman, aka: ‘the worm’ told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Sunday that while he doesn’t approve of Kim’s policies, the Hermit Kingdom’s leader was “my friend.” He also relayed the message that Kim wants President Obama to give him a call because he doesn’t want to go to war. Rodman pointed out that both Kim and Obama love basketball. “Let’s start from there,” Rodman insisted.
“You would think the first American to meet North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong-un, would be Secretary of State John Kerry or even President Obama. But no!,” said Hardball guest host Michael Smerconish on Monday.
The Obama administration did not seem amused by the trip. White House press secretary Jay Carney ripped the expedition on Monday. “Instead of spending money on celebrity sporting events to entertain the elites of that country, the North Korean regime should focus on the well-being of its own people, who have been starved, imprisoned and denied their human rights.”
The State Department also spoke out against the trip. Spokesman Patrick Ventrell stressed over the weekend that “Mr. Rodman does not represent the United States” and there were no plans to debrief the ex-hoops star about his trip.
Is this sports diplomacy at its worst?
Stephan A. Smith, radio host and ESPN commentator, told Smerconish on Monday that Rodman displayed a “flagrant and alarming level of ignorance that none of us can apologize for or summarily dismiss other than to say it’s Rodman, he’s a bit different, clearly he’s not in tune with what’s going on in this world.”
msnbc political analyst Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post agreed with Smith, adding, “What’s clear here is that Dennis Rodman is drastically out of his depth when it comes to foreign policy.” And while Rodman has the right to say who is his friend or not, “you have to realize, if you’re a public figure, you go and do things like this, they have an impact,” said Cillizza.