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How, as Americans, do we present ourselves?
That's what we have to ask when we find Dennis Rodman, of all people, heading out on diplomatic junkets.
Granted, Rodman's recent trip to North Korea was not sanctioned by any part of the United States government: His visit was strictly as a private citizen. As such, he was completely within his rights to pay his respects to North Korea and the L'il Maniac that runs the place.
That would be Kim Jong-un, the latest in a line of bizarre North Korean dictators named Kim. First, there was Kim Il-sung. Then they got Kim Jong-il. Now they get this guy, a direct descendent of the other Kims.
The 30-year-old leader has led a reclusive life. In fact, it has been reported that Rodman is the first American to have met (this) Kim.
Therein lies the benefit. Kim is listed as 5'5". My experience has been that, anytime a player's height is listed on a roster, it's usually been inflated by a couple of inches. So, let's call Kim 5'3". His physique has more than a passing resemblance to that of Poppin' Fresh, that pernicious purveyor of Pillsbury products. In other words, while Kim is a powerful leader, his is neither a powerful nor an intimidating presence.
Rodman, on the other hand, is a 6'7" beast. He's loaded with muscles, tattoos and body piercings. He's the kind of guy who, absent the Korean secret service, would make a wee guy like Kim wee his pantaloons.
I say we should have more of this sort of "diplomat."
Why not allow our diplomatic corps to better reflect the view that the rest of the world has of us Americans?
Look, we've tried for decades to promote an image of the friendly giant, the world's benevolent behemoth.
That campaign has failed.
The rest of the world doesn't see us as a warm (and rich) uncle. It sees us as a crazy, steroid-laden lottery-winning younger cousin, cruising the backroads in his Dodge Dakota 4X4, blaring David Allen Coe as he cradles an over/under 12 gauge across his knees.
Remember, we're the only nation on the face of the earth to drop the big one. And we did it twice. Now, you and I know that by doing so about one million American and countless Japanese lives were saved in averting a mainland invasion.
But, the rest of the world doesn't think that way. It only thinks, "Man, those Americans are nuts."
And, there's some validity to that. What things have we given to the world? How about: professional wrestling, anvil launching, pumpkin catapulting, drag racing, NASCAR, football (the real kind), moonshine, skateboarding and competitive eating?
We've given the world both deep-fried twinkies and Johnny Knoxville.
Then there are our artistic contributions: Dirty Harry, the Lethal Weapon guys, The Wild Bunch, The Silence of the Lambs, Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Lex Luthor? He's as American as they come. Doctor Evil? Ditto. Seems we've got 'em all over here in the good ol U.S. of A!
Plus, we have (easily) the world's largest military. Not only is it big, it's extremely talented. And we've proven that we're really not hesitant to use it in tail-kicking fashion.
So, why then do we deploy as ambassadors various dandies and dainties when we should be sending certified lunatics (such as Rodman) to represent our interests?
Diplomacy is oftentimes about instilling fear in your opponent. So is the world of sports.
Further, there is no shortage of possible U.S. ambassadors from that world of sports.
Here are some scary folks who aren't terribly busy, and who would probably be happy to don the top hat and tails of a U.S. ambassador: Rodman (of course), Shaq, Charles Barkley, Bobby Knight, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Chad Ochocinco, Tonya Harding, Mike Tyson and Evel Knievel.
Whoops. Turns out Evel Knievel is not very busy because he's now known as the late Evel Knievel. But, his son, Robbie Knievel survives him and, from what we hear, is equally crazy.
And, really, that's all it takes to be a diplomat in these strange days of ours.