Trump's divisive sports comments hurt chances for his agenda

If a president of the United States is so offensive that his conduct or actions or speeches result in one of America's pastimes to becomes a national topic of political conversation, there is something wrong.

Perhaps it is not President Donald Trump who is so offensive, but certainly his conduct in office and his obviously-unthought-out Twitters and loose speech are not bringing Americans together.

"Bring America Together" was not one of the Trump campaign slogans, as I recall. But that IS a stated - or at least understood - goal of every candidate for the presidency. As a political issue, "bringing American together" means getting enough electoral votes in a presidential election to win the election. Get enough votes from this state, together with enough votes from that state, and pretty soon you have enough to win.

That's what Trump did. As a Republican president with Republican control in both houses of the U.S. Congress, he should be in a good position to have significant portions of his agenda enacted. But that is not happening, and it seems as if the president continues to move away from success - and respect, both home and abroad.

While it is likely there have been (and still are) racial issues among National Football League teams, there are rarely better examples of racial diversity in the U.S. working together. And this is true in virtually every major sport, all of which involve, to varying degrees, athletes from various cultures and ethnic backgrounds working together. Americans have accepted and embraced racial diversity in different professional sports.

It is, frankly, part of our culture. I can be a white American and love the Chicago Bulls of the Michael Jordan era, and I can love the years in their various sports of Gale Sayers and Walter Payton and Ernie Banks and Minnie Minoso - all black athletes whose race or color meant nothing to sports fans, as long as they didn't fumble or misplay a ground ball or miss an easy game-winning basket as time ran out.

Let's be honest. Donald Trump has moved the United States a HUGE step in a backward direction. What happened last week at NFL games - including in Chicago - is not going to go away soon. It was all a reaction to, and a response to, Donald Trump and his hostile and divisive language.

Of course, this is not the first incident in which the president has acted in a manner to not just raise eyebrows but also to generate unhappiness, lack of confidence, distrust or plain old dislike and disapproval.

But taking on the world of professional sports in the U.S. is not the same as tweeting about some foreign president.

It is clear after eight full months in office that Trump is NOT going to unify America. Some candidates refer to themselves as "unifiers, not dividers." Trump is as far from being a "unifier" as any U.S. president in the past 40 years, at least.

It is hard to imagine how he can mend fences - the fences he broke at the United Nations last week, or the fences he has broken with Democrats and with his fellow Republicans in Congress.

(Congress, by the way, Mr. President, holds the key to any success you expect to enjoy. Congress holds the votes to approve what you are proposing.)

Even the Republican-controlled Congress is moving away from Trump - moving away from a lifelong dream: a Republican president in a Republican-controlled Congress.

America will not see that with Donald Trump as president. The NFL, on the other hand, is likely to clean up its act by this weekend.

Ed Murnane,, of Arlington Heights, is retired president of the Illinois Civil Justice League and a former staff member for presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

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