- The Washington Times - Monday, October 9, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Mike Pence, post-Colts-49ers walkout, has been mocked mercilessly by a vicious left as little more than a media hog and public relations stuntman for daring to leave the game in protest of players’ national anthem kneeling.

The left, the suspicious, mega-partisan, ever-political left, just can’t believe that someone would actually stand on principle.

Their logic? It must be a stunt. Who really cares about the national anthem anyway?

“I don’t think there’s any question about it,” said Stephen A. Smith, sports commentator, explaining on “First Take” his insistence that Pence was simply acting out as part of the White House’s political strategy, Mediaite noted.

Smith went on: “The president has successfully hijacked this issue. He turned it into an issue about patriotism and beyond. He is catering to his base in the process.”

And look at this headline from Deadspin — or, rather, vicious headline.

“Useless Prop Mike Pence Attempts to Explain Taxpayer-Funded PR Stunt,” the news outlet blared.

The leading lines read this way: “Mike Pence tried to be a big strong boy yesterday, walking out of the 49ers-Colts game because a handful of 49ers players knelt during the national anthem, as they have been doing all season. Almost immediately, it was revealed that Pence had planned the stunt well in advance, and thus has taken a plane from Las Vegas to Indiana for the sole purpose of pulling off thumbing his nose at black athletes trying to call attention to systemic oppression.”

Well, not really — it wasn’t actually “revealed.” It was theorized by the left, mostly because it was learned Pence and President Donald Trump spoke prior to the game about the potential for anthem kneeling. But that’s hardly the same as fact-based revelations.

And how’d Pence’s trip move into racist territory, so quickly? Notice: Pence wasn’t just reportedly going to the game to thumb his nose at athletes. Rather, he was going to thumb his nose “at black athletes.”

Nicely done, Deadspin. Blue ribbon for being the first to toss the race card in this Pence intrigue.

San Francisco’s Eric Reid jumped to blast Pence, saying “with the information I have, the last time [Pence’s] been to a Colts game was three years ago, so this looks like a PR stunt to me.”

Reid also called Pence’s departure a show of “systematic oppression.” Seriously.

“A man with power comes to the game,” Reid said, “tweets a couple of things out and leaves the game with an attempt to thwart our efforts. Based on the information I have, that’s the assumption I’ve made.”

Interesting conclusion.

MSNBC wrote: “Mike Pence pulls off expensive public relations stunt at NFL game.” Salon questioned, “How much did Americans pay for Mike Pence’s NFL walkout stunt?” Sporting News opined: “Mike Pence bailing on Colts-49ers looked like nothing more than a PR stunt.”

Here’s the thing, though. Just because Pence and Trump spoke before the game and agreed that at kneeling player scenario would lead to a vice presidential walkout — does not mean Pence’s appearance at the game was pure PR.

It means the president and vice president discussed a possible scenario and arrived at a course of action.

Pence didn’t know for sure the players would kneel. Pence certainly didn’t make the players kneel. And moreover, Pence’s thoughts on players kneeling when they should be playing wasn’t exactly hidden.

In late September, Pence tweeted this, in obvious reference to the whole national anthem kneeling campaign: “It’s about patriotism. It’s about respect for the flag, respect for the country, & respect for those who’ve fought & died to defend it.”

Now that Pence has walked the talk — now that he’s actually shown his disdain for the improper, inappropriate shows of political protests on the playing field, and left the game — the lefties want to pretend like he’s all show, no substance.

Sorry, guys. Pence had principles before players decided to kneel. He had the same principles when he attended the game and found the players still kneeling.

Those on the left are only making a case out of Pence’s departure because a man of principle is so alien to them. They just can’t fathom anybody in politics who actually stands for something — because everyone they know, everyone they support, does not.

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