[guest post by Dana]
While there has been much debate about President Trump’s use of Twitter since he took office, his “shoot from the hip” style is less likely to meet with approval from an increasing number of supporters. Here at Patterico’s Pontifications, there have been numerous posts about the president’s Twitter habit and the unintended consequences of such an immensely powerful, yet self-indulgent president who lacks self-control but has (now) 280 characters at his disposal. I have maintained that the President does himself no favors tweeting, as he inevitably steps on any positive achievements by his administration because he cannot resist lashing out at individuals whom he feels slighted by, or is determined to have the last word about some petty issue, or worse, uses Twitter to provoke notoriously unstable and dangerous world leaders. His defenders will say this is a unique strategery on his part. Others will say that his tweets are simply a way to distract from the more troubling and consequential events taking place in his administration that he would prefer not be in the headlines.
Case in point: Two days before President Trump was due to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping on his 10-day trip to Asia, three UCLA men’s basketball players were arrested for shoplifting in China. President Trump brought up the issue with the Chinese president during a meeting with him. As a result, the players were released and allowed to return to the U.S.
On Wednesday, President Trump appeared to publicly challenge the young men to acknowledge his role in their release:
I don’t know whether Trump’s tweet made this happen, or whether the young men were sincerely appreciative and had planned to express their thanks from the get-go, but all three players thanked Trump for his help:
“To President Trump and the United States government, thank you for taking the time to intervene on our behalf. We really appreciate you helping us out,” Cody Riley, one of the three UCLA players, said at a press conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
LiAngelo Ball, another of the players, said he “would also like to thank President Trump and the United States government for the help that they provided,” and Jalen Hill, the third involved player, said, “Thank you to the United States government and President Trump for your efforts to bring us home.”
Following the press conference, LiAngelo Ball’s father, Lavar Ball, was asked about President Trump’s involvement in helping his son. He response was less than gracious or grateful a few days ago, and continues to be today:
“Who?” LaVar Ball told ESPN on Friday, when asked about Trump’s involvement in the matter. “What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”
As long as my boy’s back here, I’m fine,” LaVar Ball told ESPN. “I’m happy with how things were handled. A lot of people like to say a lot of things that they thought happened over there. Like I told him, ‘They try to make a big deal out of nothing sometimes.’ I’m from L.A. I’ve seen a lot worse things happen than a guy taking some glasses. My son has built up enough character that one bad decision doesn’t define him. Now if you can go back and say when he was 12 years old he was shoplifting and stealing cars and going wild, then that’s a different thing.
Queue the President of the United States who, being unable to resist lashing out at being dismissed in such a manner, upped the ante with those 280 characters at his disposal:
Several hours later, he tweeted this:
Now. I’m hard-pressed to see how anyone would defend a sitting President of the United States who says publicly that it would be better for American citizens to be locked up by the brutal Communist regime of China rather than be back home free on American soil because his feelings were hurt by an ungrateful dad. We are not talking about a private citizen reacting this way. We are talking about the man holding the most powerful position in the world. And yet the President of the United States couldn’t resist lashing out at the senior Ball because he took a shot at him. The President has yet again taken the focus off of his own good work by making outlandish comments. To excuse him with a wave of the hand,it’s just Trump being Trump is similar to the classic it’s just Joe being Joe. Unfortunately, Trump’s lack of self-control on Twitter almost guarantees that this is what Sarah Sanders Huckabee will be confronted with at today’s scheduled press conference and will once again awkwardly struggle to put a positive spin on a self-imposed injury by the President. Further, because support for President Trump is already dismally low in the black community, it wouldn’t be surprising if the senior Ball comes out the winner in this kerfuffle by seeing an uptick in sales at his his company, Big Baller Brand. After all, free publicity. You would think a man who touts his business acumen and success as much as President Trump has, would have at least thought about this unintended consequence.
Additionally, it has been suggested that President Trump picking a fight with Lavar Ball had racist overtures:
“The black man was not appreciative of what the white man did for him and it’s a dog whistle to say the least.”
This doesn’t seem like the President Trump we’ve come to know on Twitter. Instead, as we’ve seen throughout his presidential run and time in office, the President is an equal-opportunity, thin-skinned reactionary when feeling publicly challenged, dismissed or criticized. Every race, gender and religion is a potential target for him, no holds barred. However, these specific comments may have also been red meat for those in his base who are indeed racist.
(For those of you annoyed that I am posting about Trump’s Twitter habits again, I guess be glad I didn’t post about President Trump calling out Al Franken for his sexual misconduct. I would have titled that post “Pot Meet Kettle”.)
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)