This is not helping, and somebody powerful is responsible.
President Trump, providing further material for the psychologists who would plumb the depths of his psyche, has in two posts tweeted
To the three UCLA basketball players I say: You're welcome, go out and give a big Thank You to President Xi Jinping of China who made your release possible and, HAVE A GREAT LIFE!” Be careful, there are many pitfalls on the long and winding road of life!”
Each of the three players expressed appreciation for the intervention which led to their release:
"To President Trump and the United States government, thank you for taking the time to intervene on our behalf. We really appreciate you helping us out," Cody Riley, one of the three UCLA players, said at a press conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
LiAngelo Ball, another of the players, said he "would also like to thank President Trump and the United States government for the help that they provided," and Jalen Hill, the third involved player, said, "Thank you to the United States government and President Trump for your efforts to bring us home."
Unfortunately, the athletes did not respond promptly after their release, but instead after Trump's initial tweet, in which he selfishly renarked "Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!"
Mr. Trump, the alleged Christian:: I'll help you but you better thank me, and thank me publicly.
Prior to Trump's last tweet and the thanks offered by the players, Chris Cillizza noted, in what is probably less pathetic and more alarming
That the three players are all young black men should also not be lost here. Trump's history on racial issues -- both as president and as a private citizen -- shows some level of intentionality when it comes to using racially coded language and taking advantage of racial animus and stereotypes for his own political gain.
The image of an older white man in a position of power demanding thanks from three young black men for saving them will set off a lot of alarm bells for people. And, understandably so, given Trump's previous actions in the wake of the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and in the ongoing NFL anthem protests.
Even if you take out the racial element, what Trump is asking for is to be thanked (or, more accurately, thanked by the "right" people) for doing his job.
But even without Trump's arguably racial motivation and his attitude of entitlement, the Ball-Hill-Riley response was ill-timed. Even before the President's first tweet, the gratitude of the college basketball world was conveyed to the President by Pacific-12 athletic conference commissioner Larry Scott, whose statement read
"We are grateful for the role that our Chinese hosts played, and for the courtesy and professionalism of the local authorities," Scott said Tuesday. "We also want to acknowledge UCLA's significant efforts on behalf of their student-athletes."
He added: "Finally, we want to thank the President, the White House and the US State Department for their efforts towards resolution."
That was swift, tasteful, and appropriate, coming from an individual of authority.
That should have ended it. Once Trump responded with his characteristically haughty and imperious tweet, the players should have been allowed to remain silent, The only response should have come from the league in a manner which would not have been ego-gratifying to America's big baby.
The back-and-forth in this matter is not a big thing. But though psychologists differ on whether Donald J. Trump suffers from a mental illness, he obviously often behaves as a child. While some professionals call it "enabling," it is, expressed more generically, approval of the behavior, thereby empowering and President and facilitating his behavior.
Recording a hostage tape, the players deserve credit, given that their affect made clear that the statements were scripted and their participation forced. But someone clearly of a higher authority decided to succumb to to an immature, would-be authoritarian. It's difficult to say "no" to a child, particularly when he wields the power of the presidency, but it needs to start somewhere.