Editorial Roundup: Unsportsmanlike Conduct Edition

This week editorial boards across the United States reacted to President Trump’s attack on NFL football players and criticized his delayed and insufficient response to the devastation in Puerto Rico. While millions of American suffer from the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Trump instead decided to use his time to  attack the First Amendment and propose a huge tax cut for himself and the very rich.

Here’s what Americans read in their local newspapers this week:


Chicago Tribune: Trump’s Fumbling Grasp Of Democracy

Trump’s playbook is no secret. He was in Alabama addressing political supporters, so he talked about football and race. In doing so, he again failed a basic test of moral leadership, which requires that a president work toward bridging differences and healing wounds, not pandering to division.

As we’ve all read and heard, Trump said after the Charlottesville riots, which involved white supremacists and people protesting their presence, that there were some “very fine people on both sides.” But to Trump, any player who takes a knee during the anthem deserves a crude epithet. To recap the scoring: Trump gives whites at a neo-Nazi rally more respect than he gives black football players

Kansas City Star: In America, We All Get To Say What We Think

“Find something else to do!” Trump tweeted at protesting athletes. If only he would take his own advice.

Instead, we are now locked in yet another dismal battle in the culture wars, an argument that will obscure the real conversation we should be having about race and authority in our country.

Make no mistake. The anthem protests are first and foremost about race. African-American athletes, as is their right, are using their time in the public eye to draw attention to the ongoing struggle for equality, especially for those caught in an often-unfair criminal justice system.

Now, though, an additional issue is at stake: the fundamental right to speak.



Rockaway Daily Record: Trump Keeps Fanning Racial Flames

Or maybe Trump just wants to deflect attention from his mishandling of more pressing matters — his nuclear saber-rattling with North Korea being high on that particular list.

As predicted, players and owners didn’t cringe in abject compliance Sunday. Instead, more players took a knee during the anthem. Others stood, but teams locked arms and otherwise made it a point to convey unity. Trump has all but guaranteed more sympathy among fans for the protests.

Even the President of the United States has to earn respect. Trump still doesn’t understand that.

Northampton Daily Hampshire Gazette: President Donald Trump Inflames Tensions On World Stage, Nationally

Across four days last week, President Donald Trump’s angry rhetoric ratcheted up tensions on the world stage — his verbal assault on North Korea was particularly bellicose during his maiden speech at the United Nations — and nationally with his declaration Friday that National Football League players who protest during the national anthem should be fired.

Trump’s speeches and tweets during the past week reinforce his image as an ego-driven man who uses words to inflame and divide rather than to unify and heal, casting aside the dignity of his office.

Santa Cruz Sentinel: A Toxic Brew Of Race, Sports And Trump

For anyone wondering how long President Donald Trump could keep his destructive and divisive impulses reined in, the answers came like a violent football collision over the weekend.

Because it was obviously not enough for him to set many people’s teeth chattering over his finger resting on the nuclear trigger as he ratchets up the insults with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Nah, that just doesn’t provoke the kind of response Trump seems to need, much like any garden variety celebrity dying for more camera time.

Providence Journal: Trump Hardens Divisions Again

And so, Mr. Trump jumped.

But, of course, a president is more than a narcissistic Twitter celebrity getting attention through the ceaseless trolling of his enemies. Such behavior hardens divisions, demeans his office and undercuts respect for freedom of speech.


Richmond Times-Dispatch: In Trump Vs. The NFL, The Contest Isn’t Even Close

Likewise, the president’s focus on this issue — to the exclusion of more important ones, such as the increasingly desperate situation in Puerto Rico — sullies his office. As with his other petty feuds, Trump has not elevated the discussion; he has dragged the Oval Office into the wrestling ring.

Syracuse Post-Standard: Instead Of Draining The Swamp, Trump Administration Dives Right In

President Donald Trump was elected on the promise he would “drain the swamp” in Washington. Instead, Trump has introduced some new creatures.

Exhibit A: Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price racked up $400,000 in private jet bills since May, Politico reported. Price’s spokesman is spinning it as a savings for taxpayers because the secretary is using his time more wisely than sitting in airports waiting for commercial flights. And if you believe that, we have some swampland in Washington to sell you. The HHS inspector general has launched an investigation. Price, meanwhile, has suspended his private flights while they are under review.


St. Louis Post-Dispatch: By Kneeling, NFL Players Stand For What’s Right. They’re Patriots.

The last time we checked the Constitution, professional athletes don’t give up their free speech rights just because they’re on a playing field. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggests players should keep their mouths shut in their workplace. Had Mnuchin and his boss followed that same advice, perhaps the nation wouldn’t be as divided as it is today.

Either way, we’d sooner stand up for Mnuchin’s and Trump’s free speech rights than submit to their dictatorship of silence.


Middletown Times Herald-Record: President Surges In War Of Words

Meanwhile, back at the office, where the president is supposed to be dealing with issues of importance, Puerto Rico, home to more than 3 million Americans, has been devastated by Hurricane Maria. People are without power, drinking water, food, shelter. Desperate. Trump barely mentioned Puerto Rico all weekend during his tirade against wealthy black athletes.[…]

Trump knows how to stir anger, especially over race. He uses his skill at dividing people to divert attention from the fact that he obviously does not like, perhaps even understand, the job of president.

We all suffer as a result.


Denver Post: Rejecting A Call To Divide Us, The NFL And Broncos Offer A Lesson To Us All

President Donald Trump once again acted horribly and unbelievably this weekend on matters of race. The same businessman who sought to exclude people of color from family’s properties, the same candidate who launched his primary challenge by demonizing Mexicans and Muslims, the same president who still doesn’t understand why he was wrong to equivocate after the deadly mayhem in Charlottesville, Va., decided Saturday in Alabama to argue profanely that black players who take a knee during the anthem should be fired.

What’s more, Trump sullied the office of the presidency of the United States in calling for fans to boycott teams that allow players to exercise their Constitutional right to free speech, one of our most sacred values. Suggesting that players are being disrespectful to those who have served our country and died for it, misses the point of why our country is worth defending.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Yet Again, Trump Chooses Divisiveness

This is all occurring against a backdrop of more pressing national matters — including North Korea threatening military action against the U.S., and 3 million Americans in Puerto Rico without power and fast running out of supplies and hope after a devastating hurricane. It once was commonly said that little was more precious than a president’s time, so vast are the responsibilities of that office. No more. This president squanders his time and attention with abandon, focusing on personal pique over issues vital to the nation’s well-being. Trump appears incapable of calculating that his energy might be better focused on forging a health care compromise or mobilizing aid to an island territory that is looking to the mainland for help.


North Jersey Record: NFL Stands Together To ‘Take A Knee’

Trump took an oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” to the best of his ability. He’s failing at that fundamental presidential task. The First Amendment is not negotiable.

It is not whether we stand or kneel during the national anthem, but rather whether we can remain united respecting the right to do either. The flag is a symbol. The Constitution is the real deal.


Charleston Daily Mail: Stronger trade ties Will Make America Great Again

Donald Trump campaigned on the theme to “Make America Great Again.”

But as president, some of the nationalistic actions Trump wants to take will likely make the United States — and West Virginia, in particular — weaker in the global marketplace. To truly put America first, the president needs to strengthen — not restrict — global trade.

One action the president announced this month that might harm West Virginia businesses is his desire to end the U.S.-South Korea free-trade agreement, also known as KORUS.



Omaha World-Herald: Nation Needs Division Healer

It was disappointing to see him call a citizen a “son of a bitch” for protesting during the national anthem and suggest that those who protest should be punished or fired.

His stance is popular among many patriotic veterans and much of his political base, but Trump is not president of a political blog. He is president of the United States.


Danville Commercial-News: Let’s Address The Real Issues

So amid all of the somewhat breathless commentary about who is sitting and who is standing, the much more serious issues facing American get pushed out of the spotlight. Whether by design or by chance, the recovery after three major hurricanes, the threat of nuclear war, the fate of health care for Americans and the possibility of wrongdoing at the highest levels of our government have taken a back seat to who sits and who stands.

It’s time to pay real attention to the real issues. Now.


San Francisco Mercury News: Trump Taunts Stephen Curry With Divisive Bullying

It seems that President Trump just wants to pick fights. With NATO. The United Nations. North Korea. Mitch McConnell. John McCain.

And now Stephen Curry.

Yep, that’s right. The president of the United States is doing so well on foreign relations, health care, tax reform and his border wall that he apparently has enough time on his hands to take on the stars and owners of the NBA and the NFL.


Chicago Sun-Times: Ignore The Dumber Trump Tweets And Rescue Puerto Rico

But Trump couldn’t resist taking a jab at Puerto Rico, as well, noting that the island owes “billions of dollars to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with.”

Not so good.

When your brother’s house is on fire, you help put the fire out. You do not use to the occasion to remind him that he owes you money.

At a time when more than 3.3 million people in Puerto Rico — American citizens all — are desperate for the basics of food, water, fuel and electricity, all that matters is that our nation comes to the rescue quickly and fully. The same unstinting assistance should be given as well to the U.S. Virgin Islands, another American territory devastated by hurricanes.


Baltimore Sun: Does The White House Hear Puerto Rico’s Cries?

Perhaps it’s just as well that most of Puerto Rico remains under a blackout and local residents aren’t getting a taste of this presidential indifference. At the very least, they might have noticed that Mr. Trump isn’t showing the same level of concern for hurricane damage in their island as he did for earlier damage to Texas and Florida, both of which he had visited by this point. Perhaps Puerto Ricans just haven’t been showing up at his “Make America Great Again” rallies in sufficient number.


Dallas Morning News: Trump’s NFL Comments Served Only To Coddle The Ugliest Elements Of His Base

Bad move, Mr. President.

Trump’s comments were disturbing not only in the context of somebody in his position attacking First Amendment rights, but also because they’re another example of Trump continuing to play footsie with the worst elements of his base, racists and bigots.

In Charlottesville, Va., the president referred to some of the white supremacist protesters as “very fine people.” In this incident, he referred to the kneeling players as “sons of bitches.” That sends a loud-and-clear signal to those who want more acrimony among people in the United States, not less.


Virginian-Pilot: What’s Missing From NFL Protests: The Conversations We Need To Have

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,” Trump said, drawing raucous cheers.

The president followed that on Saturday by rescinding a White House invitation to the NBA champion Golden State Warriors after star player Steph Curry voiced reservation about going while Trump is in office.

At this point, very little that the president says is truly shocking, not even his suggestion that Americans should be punished by their employers for expressing their constitutional right to free speech. Still, the pettiness of his words this weekend made the office seem small and Trump sound childish.


Raleigh News & Observer: Trump’s Tweets Demean His Office

Trump doesn’t really care, as long as he can capture some headlines with his bullying and talking about how any player who didn’t stand during the anthem ought to be fired, etc. It’s the same old Trump, and the same new Trump, thoroughly enjoying media attention however he can get it. What he apparently doesn’t realize is that he lowers the respect the American people have for him every time he opens his mouth to sputter out another insult. This kind of behavior is demeaning to him, and more importantly, to his office.



Concord Monitor: As Puerto Rico Suffers, Trump Looks Away

At 3.5 million people, Puerto Rico’s population exceeds that of New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont combined. Like the residents of those New England states, Puerto Ricans are American citizens. They are in dire need after a devastating one-two punch by hurricanes Irma and Maria – need that isn’t being met with adequate speed or adequate federal resources.

The blame for that lies with President Donald Trump.

The president, while ignoring Puerto Rico’s plight, spent five days conducting a moronic attack on NFL and NBA players whose symbolic protest against inequality, racism and police brutality during the playing of the national anthem offended him. With U.S. troops at war in at least three nations, wildfires in the West, Texas and Florida struggling to recover from hurricane damage and people dying daily in Puerto Rico, this is what the so-called leader of the free world cares about.


Las Vegas Sun: Liar Or Idiot? Trump One Or The Other On NFL Demonstrations

There are two logical ways to interpret President Donald Trump’s claim that race had nothing to do with his criticism of NFL players who are demonstrating during the national anthem, and neither of them reflect well on Trump.

One, he’s lying, in which case he’s a racist.

Two, he legitimately thinks he can come at the players without it being racially divisive, in which case he’s an idiot.

Either way, it’s yet more evidence that Trump is completely unfit for the office he holds.


Chicago Sun-Times: Trump Tax Plan Puts Ultra-Rich Before The Middle Class

The sweeping federal tax code changes proposed by Trump and congressional Republicans on Wednesday may or may not benefit, ever so slightly, the middle class. It is impossible to say until the details are known. But there is no doubt the GOP plan is a giveaway to the wealthiest Americans, especially to their heirs.


Greenfield Recorder: For The Good Of America, Reign In Your Tongue Mr. President

Across four days last week, President Donald Trump’s angry rhetoric ratcheted up tensions on the world stage — his verbal assault on North Korea was particularly bellicose during his maiden speech at the United Nations — and nationally with his declaration Friday that National Football League players who protest during the national anthem should be fired.

Trump’s speeches and tweets during the past week reinforce his image as an ego-driven man who uses words to inflame and divide rather than to unify and heal, casting aside the dignity of his office.


Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier: NFL Players Have Right To Protest

Trump tweeted his comments weren’t racist, but he has a history of denigrating civil rights concerns. He also made a point of praising virtually all-white NASCAR, where Confederate flags are frequently present at racetracks.

We respect the flag and cherish the ideals it stands for. Yet when Americans have reason to be disappointed if those ideals aren’t realized, they have a constitutional right to nonviolently express their displeasure whether it involves the flag, anthem or pledge — without the president threatening livelihoods or name-calling.


St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Anti-Wasteful Spending HHS Secretary Tom Price Billed Taxpayers $400,000 For Private Jets

Conservatives used to care about the careful stewardship of public money, and many of them still do. But careful stewardship does not fit the “lifestyles of the rich and famous” ethic of top Trump administration officials. The president himself spends millions of taxpayer dollars to relax outside Washington most weekends, mainly at his golf resorts. The Trump Organization charges staff and Secret Service up to $546 per night to rent rooms.



San Francisco Mercury News: Trump Tax Plan Drives Up Cost Of Owning California Home

As for eliminating the federal deduction for state income taxes, high-income earners would be hurt the most. But those earning between $75,000 and $200,000 a year would also be significantly impacted. To what extent that would be offset by other parts of Trump’s tax plan is still unclear.

In coming weeks, we hope to see careful analyses in California of how elimination of the SALT deduction would affect the affordability of housing and the state’s economy.

The debate over the Trump tax plan has just begun. But punishing middle-class Californians is not the answer.


Council Bluffs Daily Non Pareil: Americans In Need Of Assistance

The need is urgent, and the delay is putting lives at risk.

President Donald Trump, though, brought up the island’s debts in a trio of tweets Monday. He said Puerto Rico “was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt,” placing it “in deep trouble,” with the territory owing billions of dollars “to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with.”

We agree that something must be done about Puerto Rico’s debt — but now isn’t the time. We didn’t ask Texans or Floridians to settle up with investment bankers before we sent them disaster relief.

Frankly, for Trump to bring up the island’s debt is insulting since he’s contributed to it. While business bankruptcies are complex, University of Michigan law professor John A.E. Pottow told PolitFact that Trump bears some blame for the failure of a golf course that added $33 million to Puerto Rico’s governmental debt.


St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Trump Says His Tax Proposal Doesn’t Favor The Rich. Facts Say Otherwise

What is known about Trump’s plan — which is really the framework of a plan that lacks crucial details — belies the president. Consider just two ways it would be very good for him:

• It would eliminate the 40 percent tax levied on individuals with estates valued at more than $5.45 million, or $10.9 million for couples. Bloomberg estimates that if Trump is worth $3 billion, eliminating the estate tax would save Trump’s heirs $564 million.

• It would eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax, levied only on high earners with lots of deductions to ensure they pay something. Trump refuses to release his tax forms. But the partial 2005 return obtained by MSNBC shows that the AMT accounted for nearly all the taxes he paid.



Arizona Republic: No One Should Die Because Of Trump’s Bad North Korea Tweet

A president who doesn’t read, has no grasp of history, no knowledge of foreign affairs, no capacity for statesmanship, never served in the military and diligently evaded his own generation’s war, is practicing gunboat diplomacy in 140 characters.