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Would President Trump be happier as King Donald?

By Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

Questioned about that doublethink, President Trump insisted Sunday that his harsh speech and tweets against protests by players who mostly happen to be black had nothing to do with race, which to me is a sign that the protests actually have a heck of a lot to do with race.

"This has to do with respect for our country," he said, "and respect for our flag."

So he says. Kaepernick's original purpose in taking a knee, he said, was to call attention to questionable killings of unarmed African-Americans by police. Trump decided it was about disrespecting the flag and the national anthem, despite repeated denials by the protesting players.

So, as divisively as Trump's tweets drove a wedge between the NFL and his supporters, he succeeded in unifying NFL players, coaches and owners -- against himself.

Meanwhile, Trump continued to tweet with apparent glee, to the point of offering critiques on the quality of Sunday's protests: "Great solidarity for our National Anthem and for our Country. Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable. Bad ratings!"

Bad ratings? Ah, yes, Trump's past career as a brand-building reality-TV host has conditioned him to equate merit with ratings. Concern with crowd-pleasing can corrupt sound decision-making in the world of governance. But Trump's supporters don't seem to mind a president who apparently prefers watching "Fox & Friends" to reading intelligence briefings.

Even Trump might prefer to be an elected ceremonial royal. He could leave lawmaking to the regular lawmakers and focus on ratings. Good ratings.

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(E-mail Clarence Page at cpage@chicagotribune.com.)

(c) 2017 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
 

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