Last night at a political rally in Huntsville, Ala., the president waded into the controversy that has arisen over NFL players refusing to stand during the playing of the national anthem. The remarks he made were vintage Trump.
Instead of merely parroting one of the oft-rehearsed arguments against this somewhat misguided form of protest by arguing, for example, that players were setting a bad example for young people who look up to them as role models, the president said this:
Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b***h off the field right now! He is fired. He’s fired!‘
Here’s the video, which has gone viral:
Trump wishes NFL owners would tell anthem protesters “get that son of a bitch off the field right now” pic.twitter.com/gq4EH3lNoY
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) September 23, 2017
The comments were made just a little over 12 hours ago, but news travels fast these days, especially when it it pertains to something the president has said or done. As a result, the negative notices have begun pouring in and will continue to do so with increasing fervor for days to come.
One particular criticism that is sure to re-emerge is the one made in this comment:
The president of the United States attacking a private citizen for exercising his first amendment rights. These “rallies” are so disturbing. https://t.co/geqRh01IxD
— Rachel Held Evans (@rachelheldevans) September 23, 2017
The president didn’t name names last night, so I’m not sure which private citizen the author has in mind (perhaps Colin Kaepernick, who has become the poster child of these protests). But her point is not without merit. These players do have the right to make a statement, however fatuous, about the national anthem. Fans have the same right, which they can exercise by choosing not to attend or watch NFL games until the fever subsides. (Yes, as a diehard Steelers fan, I understand the sacrifice, but that’s a topic for a different post.)
But there’s something else about Rachel Held Evans’s tweet that caught my eye. It was the entirety of the phrase The president of the United States attacking a private citizen for exercising his first amendment rights.
It’s happened before, in fact not too long ago. From the May 10, 2012 edition of The Wall Street Journal:
Here’s what happens when the president of the United States publicly targets a private citizen for the crime of supporting his opponent.
Frank VanderSloot is the CEO of Melaleuca Inc. The 63-year-old has run that wellness-products company for 26 years out of tiny Idaho Falls, Idaho. Last August, Mr. VanderSloot gave $1 million to Restore Our Future, the Super PAC that supports Mitt Romney.
Three weeks ago, an Obama campaign website, “Keeping GOP Honest,” took the extraordinary step of publicly naming and assailing eight private citizens backing Mr. Romney. Titled “Behind the curtain: a brief history of Romney’s donors,” the post accused the eight of being “wealthy individuals with less-than-reputable records.” Mr. VanderSloot was one of the eight, smeared particularly as being “litigious, combative and a bitter foe of the gay rights movement.”
I wonder how many liberals recall or are even aware that that happened.
(h/t James Taranto)