President Trump was asked a direct question Wednesday about the ongoing and escalating conflict between the NBA and the Chinese government, which started with a seven-word tweet of support for Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters from Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey. Because he is incapable of processing the world as anything other than a series of sleazy opportunities and petty grievances, our diaper president deflected the question and instead seized the opportunity to whine about his critics.
Those critics, Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich, were asked to comment this week on Morey’s tweet and commissioner Adam Silver’s handling of the situation, respectively. Kerr was either daunted by the historical complexity of China’s conflict with Hong Kong, or cowed by the potential consequences of getting in trouble with China’s vengeful government—either way, he declined to say anything of substance. Popovich oversold the hell out of the courage and first-amendment leadership of Silver’s various wimpy non-statements, and came no closer to acknowledging the NBA’s yucky entanglement with the Chinese government than gesturing at “economic peril” and “principles that we all hold dearly.” Whatever external pressures might be weighing on people who draw their incomes from the NBA these days, these were disappointing answers from coaches who generally do better.
But surely the most powerful individual in the world would have no trouble speaking openly and forcefully about an authoritarian foreign government exerting vast economic pressure on a prominent American business over the exercising of free speech by one of its employees, especially when that individual has been waging a costly battle of trade brinkmanship with that government, virtually from the moment he took office! Surely when prompted to comment directly on China seeking to enforce an extralegal international prohibition on speech that is supportive of Hong Kong protesters, the actual President of the United States would want to at least offer some statement of solidarity, or defense of American values, or something of any substance whatsoever.
Ha ha, just kidding, of course not. The goon positioned past statements critical of him and his administration as Kerr and Popovich “talking badly about the United States,” and spared maybe half of one breath to say the NBA would “have to work out their own situation.” Just the principled leadership you’re looking for, actually:
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It’s quite something for the President of the United States to deflect a question about a conflict with China by criticizing a pair of basketball coaches for deflecting questions about a conflict with China.