The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer.
For me, Sunday, Oct. 27, was one for the history books. I attended my first World Series game ever, the Nationals vs. the Astros. And, for the first time ever, I stood up and booed a president of the United States. And I’m glad I did both.
Not everybody agrees it was the right thing to do. “I have a hard time with the idea of a crowd on a globally televised sporting event chanting ‘lock him up’ about our president,” Delaware Sen. Chris Coons tut-tutted the next morning on CNN. “I frankly think the office of the president deserves respect, even when the actions of our president at times don’t.”
Flipping the channel to MSNBC, Joe Scarborough actually condemned it as “un-American.” Said Scarborough: “We are Americans, and we do not do that.”
Wrong and wrong.
President Trump deserves every bit of disrespect he got that night from some 44,000 baseball fans in Game 5 of the World Series at Nationals Park. But don’t blame the fans. Blame it on three mistakes made by Trump and Major League Baseball officials.
First mistake: Trump, for going to the game in the first place. He wasn’t even invited. He simply announced he was coming to the game, uninvited, even though he’d never been to a Nats game before — had never, in fact, been anywhere in Washington for a personal outing outside his own hotel — and, before the game, had done nothing but praise the Astros as a “great team.”
Trump decided to crash the Nats game because he knew it was a big deal for Washington, the first time Washington’s Major League Baseball team had made it to the World Series in 86 years. He went for the same reason he hijacked this year’s Fourth of July celebration by moving it to the Lincoln Memorial so he could give a canned speech: He wanted to make it all about himself. His presence in the stadium was the proverbial skunk at the lawn party. We knew he was there. But at least we didn’t have to look at him. Until ...
Second mistake: MLB officials, for playing games with the video. Knowing that Trump would be booed if seen alone, they tried to bamboozle the crowd. In the third inning, in what has become a tradition at every Nats game, fans were asked to stand and honor members of the military in attendance. Then, as we proudly did so, they switched the big screen to a shot of Trump, standing and waving, surrounded by his toady congressional Republican sycophants.
The cynical promotional stunt backfired. It was an insult to those active military members to be joined in the same salute with a man who ducked service in Vietnam, four times, by claiming bone spurs. It immediately changed the festive spirit of the event, from baseball to politics. But it didn’t fool the crowd.
I was there: third base line, Section 406, Row C, Seat 17. The crowd immediately switched from applauding the military to booing Trump. Loudly. Lustily. Emphatically. And then the chant. I wish I could say I started it, but I didn’t. It leaped out spontaneously, from every corner of the stadium: “Lock him up! Lock him up!” Everybody joined in, 44,000 voices strong. Shaking the stadium and booming out around the globe.
Third mistake: Anybody, starting with Trump himself, who thought it would be any different. After all, it’s one of the first lessons I learned in politics: Any politician, Republican or Democrat, no matter how well-liked, can expect to get booed at sports events. It goes with the territory.
And that’s especially true of Trump. Why should he be treated with respect when he treats no one else with respect? Not even Alexander Vindman, the latest target of Trump’s personal attacks, a decorated lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army who works on the National Security Council. Or veteran State Department diplomats he called “human scum.”
Remember, in 2016, Trump’s the man who started and encouraged the chant “Lock her up!” at his campaign rallies. And the same man who today relishes the chant “Lock him up!” about Joe Biden. No need to feel sorry for Trump if, the first time he appeared outside a carefully chosen band of supporters, he got a taste of his own medicine. He asked for it. “You reap what you sow.” Sure, it’s a cliché, but it fits.
Now here’s the best part: Trump didn’t jinx it after all. The Nats won the World Series!