The president kicked off the week with a spat over black NFL players’ protests, while Republicans bungled their final (for now) attempt to repeal Obamacare
- Each week Trump seems to make more news than most presidents do in a lifetime. The Guardian is keeping track of it all in this series every Saturday
Having whipped up a national row over black NFL players’ protests in a Friday-night speech in Alabama, Trump, clearly convinced he was on to a winner, continued to poke at the wound all weekend. Players hit back in unprecedented numbers by kneeling, locking arms or staying in the tunnel during the national anthem. Whether the president chose to spark the controversy as a distraction from difficulties with North Korea or the Republicans’ flailing healthcare bill, or to shore up his rightwing base following doubts among the faithful about his attempts to cut an immigration deal with Democrats “Chuck and Nancy”, the effect was to drown out the original reason for the protests – racism and police brutality – and reframe the issue as one about patriotism. Trump planted himself cynically and effectively on the side of the flag, the military and The Star-Spangled Banner.