First, I defend President Trump’s First Amendment right to say whatever sick, twisted, ugly ideas pop into his head. Maybe our country will ultimately turn out better off for having to deal with his wretched, heathen, malicious words and actions. I also support the right of Colin Kaepernick, Tim Tebow, LeBron James, and all other athletes and non-athletes to express their political and social opinions, in any setting they choose. I also reserve the right to turn off the TV, unplug the device, block (or try to) the targeted ads, and go out for a walk while the sun shines.
Maybe pro athletes would be better off “staying in their own lane,” but that is a trivial debate compared with the problem of Trump staying in his own proper sphere. Of course he isn’t really up to it, which explains the unending sideshows. He is doing very few of us any good by refusing to pay attention to actually improving people’s lives. If President Trump would stay in his own governance lane (which should not be “playing the fool” but here we are) and focus on improving the opportunities open to the American people, he might achieve some actual success. He could focus on the help people in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands need. He could focus on rebuilding our worn-out infrastructure. He could admit that his cabinet secretaries have abused their position to rip off taxpayers by taking private jets for no good reason, and fire them.
All that might be harder work than deflecting and distracting us, and I am not at all sure he is up to studying the actual details of, say, a health care proposal for more than 30 seconds. He promised all kinds of great improvements to the supposedly abominable Affordable Care Act, yet he has harmed millions of his own supporters by sabotaging the law that is still “on the books,” while denying that any bad outcomes could ever be his fault–as if the glory of being president brings no corresponding accountability. If he would pay any attention at all to specifics he would know that the latest Graham-Cassidy plan falls way short of his promises. His fellow Republicans have given up pretending that they have a plan that will cover everybody, or even the same number of people now covered. Paul Ryan and other Republicans have attacked the idea that healthy people should have to pay for sick people getting care–that’s the way most insurance works, guys. We all hope we stay well and our cars don’t get rear-ended and our homes don’t get hit by an asteroid. In the meantime, we pay for insurance. We will be better off the sooner we get to a universal risk pool. Attention definitely needs to be paid to free-rider problems and to setting incentives and nudges and limits, but we can do all that and move much nearer to universal coverage.