Sunday, September 24, 2017


Obviously, President Trump is attacking anti-racist pro athletes because he's a bigoted white guy. But there's more going on than that. There's also this:

Healthcare is hard -- unless you're going to go to single payer, which won't happen under Republicans, you're going to have a complicated system with many moving parts, and if you alter one of those parts, others will function very differently, probably to the detriment of million of Americans. Trump, as president, should have mastered all those details in order to confront the problems with our healthcare system. He never mastered the details and he never will, and he understands that now. He knows he can't just wave a wand and give everybody great healthcare for less money, or even fool people into believing that that's what they're getting. He has to deal with legislators, who get bogged down in the deep muddy of policy details. That's no fun.

North Korea isn't any easier -- sure, it's nice to say you'll kick "Rocket Man's" ass, but the generals know that it's a problem with no good solutions, so they've at least prevented Trump from just ordering a nuclear strike on Pyongyang.

So, in many policy areas, Trump's instincts are being constrained. But no force in Washington is going to constrain Trump if he wants to declare that the NFL should fire all the protesting players. On this, he can just be the angry guy at the end of the bar. That's what he enjoys the most. It's why, even now, he likes making campaign speeches much more than being president.

You can tell that Trump is motivated by more than just racism when he talks about sports because he also said this in his Alabama speech Friday night:
Regarding his nostalgia for the dangerous hits that college and pro football have been trying to take out of the game, Trump said: “Today if you hit too hard—15 yards! Throw him out of the game! They had that last week. I watched for a couple of minutes. Two guys, just really, beautiful tackle. Boom, 15 yards! The referee gets on television—his wife is sitting at home, she’s so proud of him. They’re ruining the game! They’re ruining the game. That’s what they want to do. They want to hit. They want to hit! It is hurting the game.
This is not a new complaint:
At a rally in Lakeville, Florida, during the Presidential campaign, Trump aroused the crowd by insisting that the N.F.L., which has hardly gone to great lengths to protect its players, was “ruining the game” by inflicting penalties on players who, say, hit the quarterback too late. “See, we don’t go by these new and very much softer N.F.L. rules. Concussion? Oh! Oh! ‘Got a little ding in the head—no, no, you can’t play for the rest of the season.’ Our people are tough.”
But this all adds up to a longing for a safe space in which problems are easily solved by wisecracking tough guys, enemies are shown their place, and real Americans can kick back on Sunday and watch hours of football without having their enjoyment sullied by appeals to social conscience or acknowledgment that the game's physical brutality damages lives. The paradise Trump conjures up for his overwhelmingly white fans is ultimately one in which they get everything they want, and the only cost is to people they don't like or, in the case of professional athletes, don't respect as human beings. And there's also the ego stroking: Our people are tough, as if the fans at that Lakeville campaign rally were personally taking vicious hits.

It's a dog's breakfast, but it all adds up to: We rule. Anyone who disagrees with us sucks and isn't worthy of the slightest respect.

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