Technical Foul: Trump Goes There Again

It’s as though demonstrating class would cause him physical pain.

President Donald Trump directed a message at LaVar Ball on Twitter on Sunday, less than 24 hours after Ball downplayed the President’s role in helping Ball’s son, LiAngelo, and two other UCLA basketball players return to the United States safely after they were arrested in China for shoplifting.

“Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal,” Trump wrote. “I should have left them in jail!”

The back-and-forth between Trump and LaVar Ball stems from a situation in Hangzhou, China, earlier this month. LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley were arrested for shoplifting items, including sunglasses, from three stores while in the country to play a game against Georgia Tech.

While experts in Chinese law told USA TODAY Sports that the trio would probably not face severe punishment, Trump posted on Twitter that they were in line for “10 years in jail” before he intervened. Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Tuesday that he had spoken with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, about the situation on the players’ behalf. The trio returned to the United States less than 24 hours later and apologized in a press conference Wednesday.

Trump had the option of simply ignoring LaVar Ball’s dismissal of his role in freeing the UCLA players; he wouldn’t be the first person to simply ignore Ball. Trump chose otherwise, for fairly obvious political reasons: he figured that attacking supposedly ungrateful African-Americans would maintain his popularity among his most devoted followers. Ball is being attacked for the same reason Colin Kaepernick was attacked by the 45th President: he’s a convenient target.

Trump’s base undoubtedly thinks he “should have left them in jail.” Their hatred fuels Trump; their resentment is the force that gives him power. Imagine dealing with three (or even seven?) more years of this. Imagine hearing similar rhetoric from Roy Moore if (when?) he wins the US Senate seat Jeff Sessions vacated.

This Thursday, give thanks for the anti-Trump resistance movement. It’s hard to imagine our country remaining stable without it.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.