Our Sports-Talk-Radio-Caller President – National Review
How do we know when we’re making progress in this problem? When is it fixed?
Ironically, Kaepernick himself suggested he saw improvement. Back in August of 2016, he declared, “When there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.” He sat or kneeled for the anthem throughout the 2016 season, became a free agent, and then in March he suddenly announced he would stand again: “Kaepernick no longer wants his method of protest to detract from the positive change he believes has been created, sources told ESPN. He also said the amount of national discussion on social inequality — as well as support from other athletes nationwide, including NFL and NBA players — affirmed the message he was trying to deliver.”
But we don’t know if Kaepernick is standing when he hears the national anthem these days, because no team signed him. Some argued this amounted to a “blacklist” by the team owners; others point out that Kaepernick’s play has gradually plateaued or declined and he’s probably on the down slope of his career. After Kaepernick went unclaimed in free agency for a few weeks, Trump took credit: “Your San Francisco quarterback, I’m sure nobody ever heard of him… It was reported that NFL owners don’t want to pick him up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump! Do you believe that? I just saw that.”
Saturday, at a rally supporting Luther Strange in Alabama, President Trump decided to reignite the issue, and essentially argued that players who kneel for the national anthem should be fired: “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!”
Once again, we see most people’s perspective on whether one’s personal views should cost them their job depend almost entirely upon whether one agrees with their views. If you’re on the Left, you think that a baker ought to be fired if he refuses to bake a wedding cake for gays, that Kentucky clerk Kim Davis should have been removed from office, that the Google guy deserved to be fired, and that no NFL player should be fired for taking a knee. Many conservatives feel the precise opposite in each case. Many Americans believe in First Amendment protections in the workplace for viewpoints they agree with and no protections for viewpoints they oppose.
It’s one thing for you or me to say, “they ought to fire that guy.” It’s another thing for the President of the United States, with enormous power and influence over laws, regulations, federal policy, and government personnel decisions to do so. The National Football League will interact with the federal government plenty of times in the Trump era: antitrust exemptions, military plane fly-overs, security for the Super Bowl and other big events, tax laws. Every time the federal government balks at a league request, some will wonder, is this based of the merits of the arguments, or is this because of Trump’s fight with the players over the national anthem? This is one of the reasons presidents don’t usually weigh in on topics like this. The head of state is not supposed to issue verdicts on every controversy that comes down the pike.