Tak­ing a knee looks like the Democratic strat­egy

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - BY WES­LEY PRUDEN

The Democrats ap­pear to have given up on their long-an­tic­i­pated “blue wave.” This was the wave of sound and fury that was to sweep out ev­ery­thing be­fore it. The wave, alas, is still on the far hori­zon, if that’s not merely a mi­rage of whine and wail, and the Democrats are left with only man­u­fac­tured hys­te­ria. They’ve done well in their pri­maries, with Democrats bash­ing Democrats with gay aban­don. They’ve for­got­ten there’s a dif­fer­ence be­tween in­tra­mu­ral and var­sity sports. Var­sity pol­i­tics is nei­ther Mr. Doo­ley’s bean-bag nor a fright­ened mother’s soc­cer.

The rest of Mr. Doo­ley’s fa­mous ob­ser­va­tion bears re­peat­ing to show how the rules of pol­i­tics have changed: “Sure, pol­i­tics ain’t bean-bag,” he wrote a cen­tury ago. “’Tis a man’s game, an’ women, childern, crip­ples an’ pro­hy­bi­tion­ists’d do well to keep out of it.”

The in­tra­mu­ral Democrats have given up their old base and Amer­ica as we have all known it since the cre­ation, and linked their for­tunes this year to those who think the Amer­ica of Wash­ing­ton, Lin­coln, FDR and Rea­gan is past the sell-by date, that only an in­fu­sion of ideals and values of a Euro­pean wel­fare state can make the na­tion wor­thy of Max­ine Wa­ters and Colin Kaeper­nick. And of course of Poc­a­hon­tas, too. We must not for­get Poc­a­hon­tas and her dream of a Poc­a­hon­tasMax­ine ticket in 2020 to har­ness the power of undi­luted es­tro­gen to re­store the party’s for­tunes.

Kaeper­nickia, the flame that will not die, was thought to have gone out over spring and sum­mer, when the Na­tional Football League in a burst of manly cer­tainty told the play­ers with a weak­ness for fall­ing on their knees that the own­ers and not the play­ers were run­ning the show. The NFL said it would as­sess fines against clubs that en­abled play­ers to kneel on the sidelines dur­ing the play­ing of the na­tional an­them.

Now the league says hey, just kid­ding, and in the in­ter­ests of heal­ing the play­ers will get an­other year to as­suage their pain and rub strong medicine on their wounded feel­ings. The own­ers had ear­lier even been will­ing to al­low trou­bled play­ers to wait in the locker rooms with Mi­dol and smelling salts close at hand while ev­ery­one else in the sta­dium was stand­ing and try­ing to re­mem­ber the words set to the tune of that great Welsh drink­ing song.

The price of the stock shares of Nike, the ath­letic shoe man­u­fac­turer that now runs not only the NFL but the NCAA, too, took a dive af­ter Nike hired Colin Kaeper­nick to be the face of its mar­ket­ing. The price of Nike shares fell an as­ton­ish­ing 34 points in a sin­gle day. Nike is not only one of the top-sell­ing shoes but the most-of­ten stolen ath­letic shoe as well. The Nike shoe you see on the feet of the gen­tle­man ahead of you in the su­per­mar­ket check-out line may not be­long to him. Nike stands by them all.

But the Democrats snug­gling up to Nike and Colin Kaeper­nick, who ac­tu­ally hadn’t en­joyed a wet knee in two sea­sons, might be a risky gam­ble for Nike. A lot of Amer­i­cans who vote may not share Nike’s en­thu­si­asm for as­so­ci­at­ing with some­one ea­ger to dis­play con­tempt for the flag, the na­tional an­them and the sym­bols of Amer­ica. The NFL own­ers rec­og­nize the risk, but de­cided they had rather switch than fight, and threw in with the play­ers in­stead of their fans and ticket-hold­ers.

Colum­nist David Leon­hardt of The New York Times calls lin­ing up with the own­ers and play­ers against the an­them “a trap for Democrats.” If so, both own­ers and play­ers can be sure that Don­ald Trump will ex­ploit that trap in be­half of cam­paign­ing Repub­li­cans. The pres­i­dent has demon­strated that he knows a thing or two about ex­ploit­ing griev­ances.

Mr. Kaeper­nick’s orig­i­nal protest was some­thing new and dif­fer­ent. He was offended by the cru­elty of a hand­ful of cops, and de­cided it could be sold as the be­hav­ior of hun­dreds of thou­sands of po­lice­men ev­ery­where. This was quickly trans­formed by Kaeper­nick fol­low­ers as proof that Amer­ica was dirty and un­de­serv­ing of any­one’s love and loy­alty.

Martin Luther King, rec­og­nized now as ev­ery­body’s hero, called his great cru­sade “deeply rooted in the Amer­i­can dream,” and called on Amer­i­cans to live up to their ideals. If that was ever Colin Kaeper­nick’s aim it was lost in a cru­sade for the in­ter­ests of a washed-up quar­ter­back who merely wants to squeeze out a few more min­utes on some­body’s sidelines.

A sin­gle owner could put an end to this spec­ta­cle by giv­ing the washed-up quar­ter­back one last shot, and see if he’s still as good as he says he is. No owner is that brave or that fool­ish. Football is a busi­ness first. Wes­ley Pruden is ed­i­tor in chief emer­i­tus of The Times.

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