Mike Pence decided to boycott the NFL and Twitter isn't having it
Well, we're talking about goddamn football again. The news cycle has swallowed itself, like a sick serpent, vomiting us up back at two weekends ago, when the NFL protests and taking a knee became the all-consuming culture war. Turns out, you're never free from petty culture war. Stupid stuff just keeps happening. "It will get dumber," may as well be the plaque pasted upon our human throne.
Pence left the Colts game because players were kneeling before the flag and the National Anthem, expressing their First Amendment right. However, the flag has become an utterly amorphous symbol, representing various things to various subcultures and factions. There is no unity beneath the flag.
To the protesters, those kneeling for the anthem, the flag represents an uncritical nationalism and a self-destructive patriotism, embodied by the treatment of black Americans at the hands of their government. To Pence, Trump, and their supporters, the flag represents America's soldiers, and the long tradition for fighting for liberty. The players are criticizing what the flag stands for today. The President raises the ideal of the flag over its shortcomings. Those who feel that they are suffering or have seen others suffer from America's sins are unwilling to place faith in that ideal, preferring to criticize the shortcoming.
But, it gets stranger:
So, Trump encouraged Pence to leave the game if any players kneeled. Knowing that some players would likely kneel, Pence's presence at the game amounted to a big stunt, a symbolic reaction meant to feed more red meat to the Trump-Pence base. It cost almost $250,000 just to wage a little culture war.
Pence was on the West Coast Sunday morning, and flew east. A Pence aide said that the trip was already taking place, and that it was the less expensive version of the trip, going from Las Vegas to Indiana instead of all the way to DC:
"The Vice President was not going to miss the Las Vegas memorial prayer walk on Saturday, which he was honored to attend on behalf of President Trump. If the Vice President did not go to Indiana for the Colts game, he would have flown back to D.C. for the evening -- which means flying directly over Indiana. Instead, he made a shorter trip to Indiana for a game that was on his schedule for several weeks."
Okay, so if Pence was going to fly to DC on the taxpayer dime, and back again to Las Vegas for the next day, then he really didn't go out of his way to waste money in Indiana, did he? I mean, he was already making this cross-country flight, so stopping at the Colts game was not the reason for his travel. He was already going to either Indiana or DC.
When you actually take the time to read, a lot of outrageous side-show circus stuff becomes non-news. This story, really, is non-news. Who cares if Pence walked up out of a Colts game in outrage at players not respecting his interpretation of the flag? He's Mike Pence, of course he believes that. It's not new information. It's just continuing this culture war side-show. Try paying attention to policy instead.