The presidency is a terrible thing to waste, and Donald Trump is standing by as his goes up in flames. What’s worse, he lit the fire.
He’s embarrassed himself, his party and, indeed, the nation with his thunderbolts of racially tinged outrage directed at protesting NFL players.
This manufactured crisis and his continuing obsession with football players and the national anthem should trouble all Americans, especially when the commander-in-chief has consequential concerns on his plate that are far more deserving of attention.
Puerto Rico lies in shambles, in the throes of a humanitarian crisis that has left much of the island without power or water in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. With Republicans abandoning their latest effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, the health care debate has reached a critical moment.
Tensions with North Korea have legions of Americans on edge, and an ill-conceived Trump tweet has been interpreted by Pyongyang as some sort of declaration of war. What could be a bipartisan tax reform push is underway. And Trump has issued yet another travel ban that tests our Constitution and our character.
For days now, Trump’s NFL tweet storm has consumed most of the political oxygen, driving more pressing issues such as these off the public radar as effectively as another F5 hurricane.
Wrote the president Monday night on his toxic Twitter account: “Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble.” So much for presidential compassion.
The fiasco of the past few days is the most dramatic example yet of an American president with no sense of proportion and no understanding of the careful calculus needed to pass legislation or navigate foreign policy. An administration already chock-full of cringe-worthy moments has added another dramatic chapter.
How rare is it that a significant swath of the sports world has risen as one to protest the campaign-style rantings of America’s leader? Somehow, our divider-in-chief has managed to unite much of the NFL — against him.
Preaching to an audience in bright red Alabama Friday night, Trump catered to his crowd, ripping NFL owners for not firing players who refused to stand for the national anthem.
“Get that son of a bitch off the field right now!” Trump roared. “Out. He’s fired. He’s FIRED!” Red meat has never been served so rare.
But what began as a handful of player-protesters a week ago ballooned to 250 or more on Sunday, thanks to the president. Three full teams wound up boycotting the anthem Sunday.
When the magnitude of the reaction against Trump became clear, the president did what he almost always does: He attacked again, tweeting on Sunday about “boring games” on a day when a string of games came down to final plays.
This Trump storyline is familiar, of course. But rarely has the country seen this kind petulance played out on such a grand stage.
This week, as the president’s daughter rolled out a new $200 million science and technology initiative, the focus remained on Trump’s tweets and his bid to keep his political base intact at any cost.
Meantime, significant national troubles continued to simmer, with no indication that the president is inclined to engage constructively. Ranting only gets you so far in politics. As Trump knows, you’ve also got to produce. That’s tough to do when our president has lost his way.