After abruptly canceling a White House visit from the Philadelphia Eagles, President Trump held a “patriotic rally” on the front lawn — where he forgot the words to “God Bless America,” and seemed to mouth “stand beside me” instead of “stand beside her.”
Trump had nixed the visit from the Super Bowl-winning Eagles after learning that fewer than five players were expected to attend. “Staying in the Locker Room for the playing of our National Anthem is as disrespectful to our country as kneeling. Sorry!” he tweeted Monday night in announcing the cancellation.
How this applied to the Eagles was not clear, because none of them had kneeled or stayed in the locker room during the National Anthem last season.
The next day, a substitute “Celebration of the American flag” rally was held on the White House lawn, where “God Bless America” was played — and Trump either seemed not to know, or to have momentarily forgotten, the lyrics.
The president started off strong, clearly knowing the title of the song. But by the third line, he stumbled. For most of the rest, he stood silently, bobbing his head and occasionally interjecting a word.
Some thought Trump appeared to sing “stand beside me” instead of “stand beside her.”
When he sings God Bless America, Trump says “Stand beside ME” instead of “her,” which kind of tells you everything you need to know. https://t.co/Xpi9jlxEhN
— Jake Maccoby (@jdmaccoby) June 6, 2018
The event was denounced as a distracting ruse, an attempt to continue a culture war NFL owners had already resolved by announcing that players wouldn’t be allowed to kneel on the field during the anthem next season. Although Trump claimed the crowd was composed of Eagles fans, a Philadelphia TV reporter had trouble finding anyone who could name the team’s quarterback. A Slate writer pointed out that the gathering looked a lot like the White House intern class.
“We love our country. We respect our flag. And we always proudly stand for the national anthem,” Trump told the crowd. “We always will stand for the national anthem.”
But in terms of singing it, Trump might want to brush up before his next public concert. Video taken at the College Football Championships on Jan. 9 in Atlanta showed that he didn’t seem to know the words to that one either.