Trump vs. LeBron James: It’s about “the other” (column)
August 4, 2018
Before his supporters go nuts and start emailing me, just remember President Donald Trump brought it up.
At 11:37 p.m. Eastern time, on Friday, Aug. 3, The Donald tweeted, "Lebron (sic) James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron (sic) look smart, which isn't easy to do. I like Mike!"
But why in the wild, wild, world of sports, is President Donald Trump stepping into the world of sports — again?
Two for the price of one?
In fairness, this was a two-fer for the president. The first shot was at the "dumbest man on television," CNN's Don Lemon. This is a part of the president's continued campaign against media, which includes pretty much everyone who doesn't agree with El Presidente 100 percent of the time.
Just five days ago, Tuesday, July 31, the president called the media "the enemy of the American people," in a deleted tweet. On Thursday, Aug. 2, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who usually does the cleanup on Aisle 3 when the president steps in it, didn't walk that back in an exchange with CNN's Jim Acosta.
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Hey, Mr. President, my colleagues and I here are pretty much working stiffs, who report what happens here in Eagle County. How'd we became the "enemy of the American people," a meme to which Trump has returned often during his time in office?
Aren't we the working stiffs you were allegedly going to help as part of your, "Make America Great Again," campaign?
While you think about that, let's go back to Lemon. Of the CNN anchors, why does Lemon draw more of the president's ire than his primetime co-workers like Anderson Cooper, Wolf Blitzer, Chris Cuomo and Erin Burnett?
We can play the "Jeopardy" music, but it's a little game of control and variable. Cooper, Blitzer, Cuomo and Burnett are white and Lemon is African-American.
We'll get back to that.
A bad comparison
Why did the president go after James? On Monday, July 30, the day before Trump was ripping the media as the enemy of the people, James was opening the I Promise School, a public school in Akron, Ohio,
Among the things the school will be doing is making sure that underprivileged students have full stomachs as they pursue their education, providing job placement for adults in the community and guaranteeing students who complete the program through high school scholarships at the University of Akron.
Aside from the inevitable comparisons between the I Promise School and, say, Trump University, which was a fraud, and forced Trump to settle with its ex-students for $25 million, how is James dumb?
In Republican orthodoxy, isn't James doing what rich successful people inevitably do — give back to the community, allowing the underprivileged a way to pull themselves up by the bootstraps, yes, a favorite GOP expression?
Shouldn't Trump be praising James for his generosity?
The crux of the issue
Of course, not.
Because Donald Trump's political game plan is about demonizing "the other," be it an African-American news anchor like Don Lemon, a powerful and rich athlete like James, who is African-American, or big-scary looking football players who kneel during the national anthem (and those who kneel are predominantly African-American).
Are we seeing a trend here?
Differing ethnicity — be they Mexicans, "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best …" African-Americans or people from less-desirable countries (a paraphrasing of the president's words) — is scary, and Trump is here to protect 1950s white America from these "dangers."
And the reason why this goes in the sports section is that sports is a target-rich environment for Trump, particularly with the minority-majority populations of the NFL and the NBA. One does wonder why he hasn't gone up against baseball as 29 percent of the sports athletes were born outside the United States. (That's pretty scary.)
Sports is just another world for the President to demagogue to pander to his base. It's getting old, Mr. President.
By the way, Donald, you may like Mike, but he weighed in on your tweet on Saturday, Aug. 4.
Through a spokesperson, he said to NBC news, "I support L.J."
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