After spending the weekend picking fights with the two best basketball players in the world, President Trump woke up Monday morning in a more contemplative, jingoistic mood—shifting both his emphasis and his tone.
The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 25, 2017
So proud of NASCAR and its supporters and fans. They won't put up with disrespecting our Country or our Flag - they said it loud and clear!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 25, 2017
These missives fit with the way Trump often handles his many feuds and crises, starting from an extreme position and then slowly groping toward one where he can find popular support. While the fights that the president picks are often comically unpredictable—if you had “Twitter fight with Steph Curry and LeBron James” on your presidential bingo card for the weekend, step up to the table to take your winnings—but the way that he conducts himself, having chosen a fight, seems to display a pattern.
As in so many things, Trump the president is little different from Trump the businessman. His impulse is to start from a big, splashy, gaudy place—say, calling players who kneel for the National Anthem “sons of bitches,” or claiming he was revoking an invitation to the White House from Curry, who’d already rejected it. (You can’t quit, you’re fired!) These decisions seem to stem from the gut, no Clintonian polling about it. Trump sees something and he says whatever comes to mind about it.