The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Trump said everyone should ‘stand proudly’ for the anthem. He fidgeted and air-conducted at his own Super Bowl party.

President Trump at the 2019 Conservative Political Action Conference in Oxon Hill, Md. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
Placeholder while article actions load

Among the guests at the Trump International Golf Club Super Bowl party Sunday night in West Palm Beach, Fla., its host, President Trump, was an unusually conspicuous presence.

In an Instagram video taken by a guest and later discovered and republished by the Miami Herald, other attendees — including members of the first family — are seen standing calmly with hand over heart as “The Star-Spangled Banner” plays. The 20-second clip using the front-facing-camera mode shows Trump doing neither. Instead, the president is seen fidgeting, pointing around the room, straightening his jacket and at one point waving his fingers in the air as if conducting an invisible orchestra.

Trump’s behavior during the national anthem cut against his frequent claim that his respect for the song, the flag and the military is superlative — and incidentally, this occurred on the biggest night for the National Football League, an organization whose players Trump has openly criticized as unpatriotic.

In 2018, Trump called for consequences for players who don’t stand during the national anthem: “You have to stand proudly for the national anthem. Or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”

It was unclear who took the video Sunday. In the clip, which was found and then copied by the Herald, the face of the person holding the phone is blurred. It is also unclear if the golf club has a social media policy, but members and guests of Trump’s various clubs have for years tagged their locations in posts that often include the president or members of his family.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment about how Trump’s behavior aligns with his criticism of those who do not stand for or give their full attention to the national anthem.

Perspective: Taking a knee has always been a sign of reverence, not disrespect

For years, Trump has complained about what he says is widespread “disrespect” for the American flag and the national anthem. He has reserved some of his harshest criticisms for athletes of color, such as former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, as well as those in the LGBT community, such as professional soccer player Megan Rapinoe. Both have opted to kneel or stand silently during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to protest racial injustice.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’ ” Trump said during a 2017 rally in Huntsville, Ala.

President Trump spoke about patriotism and respect for the American flag on June 5, after canceling the Philadelphia Eagles’ celebration. (Video: The White House, Photo: Jabin Botsford/The White House)

A year earlier, Kaepernick ignited a polarizing movement when he stopped standing for the anthem.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media after an August 2016 game. “To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

The NFL responded that the decision to participate in the ceremony was up to the athlete, but his relationship with the 49ers management soured. After becoming a free agent the next year, Kaepernick never signed with another team. He eventually settled a lawsuit accusing the owners of the NFL of colluding to keep him out of the league for his outspoken views.

Kaepernick, and the activism he inspired, has continually resurfaced as an annoyance to Trump. In late 2018, the president criticized a high-profile commercial by Nike that featured Kaepernick, saying it sent a “terrible message.” The ad’s tagline reads: “Stand for something, even if it means losing everything.”

The Super Bowl party was not the first time Trump has not shown the same respect for the anthem he has accused others of lacking. During the White House Easter Egg Roll in 2017, Trump appeared to forget to put his hand over his heart as the anthem began — until first lady Melania Trump gave him a nudge.

Clarification: A previous version of this story stated the video clip was shared with the Miami Herald. It was not; the Herald independently found and republished the video.

Read more:

2 killed, 1 injured in shooting at Texas A&M University-Commerce

These lawmakers voted to protect abortion rights, so a priest says he’ll deny them Communion

Stephen King quits Facebook over ‘flood of false information’ and privacy concerns

Loading...