Commentary: Why the NFL flag flap probably isn’t a losing issue for Donald Trump

If you think the NFL flag flap is a losing issue for Donald Trump, you might want to call Michael Dukakis, the 1988 Democratic nominee for president and say these two words: 

“Flag factory.”

After the Democratic National Convention in 1988, Dukakis, the former Massachusetts governor, was leading Vice President George H. W. Bush by 17 points. But then, the GOP vice president’s campaign put Bush at an event at a flag factory. And Republicans also seized upon the fact that, as governor of Massachusetts, Dukakis had vetoed a bill requiring school teachers to lead their classes in the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of each school day. The idea was so popular that even in deep-blue Massachusetts, the legislature overrode his veto.

While Dukakis was arguing about constitutional nuance, Bush was standing on national TV. He looked in the camera and asked Americans, “Should public school teachers be required to lead our children in the Pledge of Allegiance? My opponent says no, but I say ‘yes!'”

Bush won by seven points. It wasn’t even close.

Now, fast-forward to 2017:

On Sunday, more than 150 of America’s wealthiest, most elite athletes refused to stand with their fellow Americans for the playing of the national anthem. Other wealthy celebrities joined in spirit and on social media — from Steph Curry and LeBron James to Stevie Wonder and P. Diddy. In Detroit, singer Rico Lavelle “took a knee” while actually singing the anthem. And in London, the Jaguars and Ravens refused to stand for the national anthem at their game in Wembley Stadium — and then stood up for the UK’s national anthem “God Save The Queen.”

And Trump’s opponents think he’s losing this fight?

The problem for Colin Kaepernick and his allies is that they’ve chosen the disrespect-the-flag-at-the-beginning-of-a-fun-family-outing as their method of protest. And whether they intend to convey disrespect or not, it’s difficult to argue that refusing to stand for the national anthem isn’t…

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