In a blistering editorial piece published By The Hill, Fox News contributor Juan Williams delivered a truth bomb on Donald Trump, writing that the “tide is shifting away from Trump” on his feud with the NFL over player’s protest during the national anthem.
In his column, the journalist points out that “the winning attack for the GOP in the midterm elections is supposed to feature tax cuts, MS-13, ObamaCare, Nancy Pelosi and ‘Crooked Hillary,’ but so far none of it is moving votes for Republicans.”
“The biggest loser for the GOP messaging plan is turning out to be President Trump’s rants about those NFL players who kneeled during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice, including the fatal shootings of unarmed black people.”
“Trump has stoked racial divisions by stirring his overwhelmingly white rallies — calling out team owners for not punishing the mostly black players for continuing Colin Kaepernick’s protest,” Williams writes.
“Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!” Trump said at a rally in Alabama more than a year ago.
But Trump, who had continued in that vein for a long time, started backpedaling last week.
Why? What drained the political power from Trump’s racially divisive fire and brimstone attacks on the NFL protests?
As Williams notes, Trump gave a clue last week in an interview with The Daily Caller:
He said that while he disagrees with Nike’s decision to celebrate Kaepernick as a hero in a new ad campaign — “It’s a terrible message” — he quickly added that freedom to speak out “is what this country is all about, that you have certain freedoms to do things that other people think you shouldn’t do.”
The new tone from Trump came after the Ford Motor Co., owner of the NFL’s Detroit Lions, took a shot at Trump by saying the players’ right to express views is part of “what makes America great.”
“Our game has long provided a powerful platform for dialogue and positive change,” said Martha Ford, pushing back at Trump. “Negative and disrespectful comments suggesting otherwise are contrary to the founding principles of our country.”
For the first time the NFL, whose owners once seemed to fear Trump, is also pushing back.
“The social justice issues that Colin and other professional athletes have raised deserve our attention and action,” the league said in a statement.
The NFL’s use of the words “social justice” in their statement indicates that even the league is now having the debate on Kaepernick’s terms — acknowledging the validity of his right to stand up for his beliefs.
Another score for Kaepernick.
Williams also warned that candidates using Trump-style strategy could pay a big price at the ballot box.
He singled out Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who is running against his Democratic opponent, Beto O’Rourke.
Cruz ran an attack ad after O’Rourke, speaking at a veterans’ event, supported the players’ right to protest.
“Liberal Hollywood was thrilled. But do Texans agree?” asked a Cruz political ad that showed a retired Marine who lost his legs in combat saying: “I sure expect you to stand for me when the national anthem is being played.”
The ad closed by asking voters, “Where will you stand?”
But since O’Rourke took the players’ side while conceding that “reasonable people can disagree on this issue,” his poll numbers have gone up. He is now within single digits of the incumbent, Cruz.
The video showing O’Rourke speaking in defense of the players’ “non-violent protests” attracted national attention. He appeared on Ellen DeGeneres’ morning talk show. He also won approving tweets from celebrities like LeBron James who tweeted “A Must Watch!!! Salute @BetoORourke for the candid thoughtful words!”
Last week, Kaepernick got a standing ovation while watching the U.S. Open tennis tournament with a largely white crowd.
Williams closes by quoting the immortal words of Bob Dylan, “the times they are a-changin’.”