As reported by several media outlets, including Fox News, Vice President Mike Pence was back home in Indiana this past weekend to watch the NFL matchup between the Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers, but walked out of the game after several members of the 49ers elected to protest the national anthem in the way that has become fashionable recently.
Pence later tweeted the following statement:
“I left today’s Colts game because President Trump and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem. At at time when so many Americans are inspiring our nation with their courage, resolve, and resilience, now, more than ever, we should rally around our Flag and everything that unites us. While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I don’t think it’s too much to ask NFL players to respect the Flag and our National Anthem. I stand with President Trump, I stand with our soldiers, and I will always stand for our Flag and our National Anthem.”
Predictably, Pence was roundly criticized in social media by the usual suspects. One of those, Brian Stelter of CNN, host of Reliable Sources, doubted the VP’s sincerity in initially deciding to attend the game in the first place, suggesting it was done just to engage in the walk-out. Stelter, on Sunday, said, in part, “There have been players on the San Francisco team kneeling every single game. Pence and his team head into the game today, they had to have known there was going to be kneeling.”
“His statement almost seems written ahead of time, and it seems like it was a staged moment for Pence to walk out and make a statement about this.”
The fact is, it may have been a contrivance, to one degree or another. But here’s what is also surely true – had those 49er players stood for the anthem, Pence would not have left; or had he, in fact, departed the game early at some point, he would not have had the justification of kneeling players at his disposal.
But he did. Because they did.
By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large