Amid the countless hours of coverage CNN devoted Tuesday to President Donald Trump’s decision to pull his invitation to the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles to be honored at a ceremonial visit to the White House, one CNN commentator said not enough focus is being placed on the “problematic” nature of the national anthem itself.
Appearing on “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” Rye blasted the president for his decision to “disinvite” the Eagles because so many players had planned to skip the trip, saying the president’s ego wouldn’t allow him to be seen with such a small group of players.
A number of players said they would skip the visit, in part, because of Trump’s strong opinions about not using the national anthem as a form of protest.
Rye said the president has succeeded in making anthem protests as an “us-versus-them” debate.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) June 5, 2018
“We’re now going to end up in a midterm where we’re talking about the national anthem,” she added. “The national anthem is problematic in and of itself. There is a second verse that Colin Kaepernick brought attention to that has yet to be discussed on broad platforms.”
Rye said it’s wrong for Trump to turn the topic of social injustice into a partisan debate.
“It’s just dishonest, right?” Rye said. “This isn’t about people who disagree with the partisan leanings of the president. There are Republicans who are my friends — this is about someone who trafficked in bigotry, xenophobia, and racism from the very beginning of his campaign.
“Everybody has the right to say (to the president), ‘I disagree with you and I especially disagree with how you carry yourself as a leader.’ This is not about the national anthem. That’s the side issue.
“The real issue is Donald Trump’s issue with crowd size … and that’s what he’s really frustrated about. Let’s be really, really honest here. That’s what he can’t handle, the ego blow.”
Rye said as a leader, Trump should be willing to listen to what the players have to say about why they’re not standing for the anthem instead of just labeling them as unpatriotic.
“People have every right to go through the practices of … free speech,” Rye said. “This is something that’s bothering me, until this country serves me the same way it serves so many other people, I have a right to protest. And you should pay attention to what those issues are if you’re a real leader.”
Host Jake Tapper reported that a source told the network that Trump plans to push the anthem issue into the November midterms because it plays so well with his base of voters.
Rye said it’s indicative of Trump’s greatest failure as a president.
“The unfortunate part of the president’s transition into becoming the president is he hasn’t yet realized it’s no longer a campaign rally — he actually has to govern,” Rye said.
“He has to be the commander-in-chief for people who agree with him, and those who disagree with him. Instead of trying to figure out how to bring folks together, he continues to use these ‘read meat’ issues that flare tensions, that cause people to be enraged, and to frustrate people who feel like they’re invisible to him.”
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