There’s a common joke on Twitter: There really is a tweet by President Donald Trump for nearly every occasion. It turns out that applies to his ongoing feud with the NFL too.
Four years ago, Trump argued that then-President Barack Obama should lay off the “privately owned Redskins” after Obama suggested that the team should change its name because it’s a racial slur for Native Americans.
Government is shut down yet Obama is now harassing the privately owned @Redskins to change its name.He needs to focus on his job!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2013
Now Trump is embroiled in a feud that’s much more involved than Obama’s passing remark about the Redskins, as he has taken time out of speeches and repeatedly tweeted to argue that the NFL should fire athletes for supposedly protesting the national anthem. (Of course, the NFL players are not actually protesting the national anthem itself; they are instead refusing to stand for the national anthem in protest of racial injustice and police brutality.)
Meanwhile, parts of the US are just recovering from some terrible storms, Puerto Rico in particular was crushed by a hurricane, Republicans are trying to pass a health care bill that would strip millions of insurance, North Korea is continuing to threaten the US with nuclear war, and Trump has yet to actually declare the national emergency that he long ago promised to deal with the opioid epidemic.
As one example: Since last Wednesday, Trump has tweeted about the NFL and the national anthem 19 times (not counting retweets) but has tweeted about Puerto Rico four times.
The latest from this morning: “The NFL has all sorts of rules and regulations. The only way out for them is to set a rule that you can't kneel during our National Anthem!”
On one hand, this shows the power of biases. Trump has a history of racist comments, has joked about police brutality, has criticized Black Lives Matter, and supports “tough on crime,” aggressive policing. So it’s little surprise that he would be offended by some athletes protesting things like racism and police use of force. At the same time, he’s likely not someone — given his own history of calling a sitting US senator “Pocahontas” — who would be offended by the name of the Redskins.
But behind any of this is the simple fact that Trump is now dedicating a considerable amount of time to a silly feud with a sports league — when he has previously said that the president shouldn’t be doing such a thing.