A few weeks ago, President Trump was excoriating NFL players for disrespecting the National Anthem. Last night, he forgot the words.
On Monday night, Trump appeared at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium before the College Football Playoffs, where he was greeted with a mixture of cheers and booing. Standing for the National Anthem, he demonstrated an inability or lack of desire to sing along, mouthing certain words while remaining tight-lipped for others — or as the AV Club described, “slowly working his soft jaw like some dead-eyed fish.”
Trump completely expressed certain phrases, such as “bright stars,” and finished confidently on “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” But as some on Twitter pointed out, right-wing critics who once called out what they considered to be President Obama’s inadequately large American flag pin, could not by the same standard consider it a reverential performance.
Trump very clearly does not know the words to the national anthem, but please tell me more about how Obama was unpatriotic for not wearing a big enough flag pin pic.twitter.com/yYHjalOECW
— Yes, You’re Racist (@YesYoureRacist) January 9, 2018
BBC reporter Anthony Zurcher stood up for the president: “For those grousing about Trump seemingly not knowing the words to the national anthem: 1) He’s hard of hearing and 2) down on the field, the sound bounces around a lot and it’s hard to decipher the music. Singing along wouldn’t be easy for him,” he tweeted.
But to others, it was an another example of the president being showingly hypocritical. Earlier this year, Trump was accused of stoking a culture war by loudly criticizing Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players for kneeling during the National Anthem as a form of peaceful protest against racism. In one speech, he said NFL team owners should “throw the sons of bitches out.”
The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 25, 2017
Still others on Twitter found performance art in the moment.
It looked like Donald Trump just kept repeating “applesauce” during the National Anthem. #NationalChampionship
— Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) January 9, 2018
Trump himself seemed unbothered by the fuss. On Monday, he changed his Twitter banner to an image of him standing for the Anthem.