One of the more surreal sidelights to the startling and momentous events in Singapore was an interview given by ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman to CNN. Rodman became friendly with Kim Jong-Un after he started visiting North Korea five years ago to help train basketball players. His description of the murderous dictator as a “big kid” who just likes to have fun brought him mockery in the US from late night comics, and, he told CNN, so many death threats that he couldn’t go home for 30 days.
Wearing a red “MAGA” cap and a T-shirt promoting his sponsor (a marijuana-based cryptocurrency), Rodman became emotional as he praised Trump (whom he knows from “Celebrity Apprentice”) and blasted Barack Obama. He revealed that he had tried years ago to deliver a message from Kim to Obama about his willingness to negotiate, but Obama "didn't even give me the time of day -- he just brushed me off.”
This is part of a new twist on the double standard (call it “Celebrity Double Standard.”) The media celebrated Obama as the king of cool for hanging out with stars such as Jay-Z, Beyonce and Bruce Springsteen. But they ridiculed Trump for meeting with Kim Kardashian, even though it led to him commuting a life sentence for an African-American great-grandmother convicted of a non-violent drug crime. And they mocked Dennis Rodman, even though he now praises Trump for doing what Obama refused to and possibly turning a new page in history with the North Korea summit. So the media’s problem isn’t with Presidents talking to celebrities; it’s with them talking to anyone who’s not an A-list celebrity. Or who has an actual issue to discuss.
Just a reminder of something that Trump has always kept in mind: despite the sniping about his own ego, he realizes that the job of President is, at its core, a civil service job. He knows he doesn’t work for the political establishment or the media, he works for the people. Kim Kardashian and West Virginia coal miners have just as much right to his attention as Hollywood moguls or Wall Street bankers. That’s why he recently took 90 minutes out of his incredibly busy schedule to shake the hand of each and every graduate of the US Naval Academy.
It’s ironic that a President who was criticized for being a “celebrity” seems to care so little about whether the people he helps or listens to are celebrities. Maybe it’s because he has spent so much time in Hollywood and New York celebrity circles that the A-listers' endless attacks on him don’t faze him. He’d probably rather have the approval of construction workers, anyway.