The heavy favorite sauntered in with a swagger that only comes from being on top. They had won the ultimate prize before, but this would be even better, as winning would shatter records and set new precedents. With the caliber of team the leader had assembled, victory seemed inevitable.
But a funny thing happened.
In a shock to the nation, the vaunted Alabama Crimson Tide – national champions riding a whopping 26-game winning streak – fell to underdog Clemson at the very end, a stinging loss that no one saw coming. Sound familiar?
Sure, there were some questionable calls that hurt the favorite in the razor-thin contest. But that’s part of the game, so no excuses. Bottom line: On the only day that mattered, the Clemson Tigers were better.
Many disappointed Tide fans are still scratching their heads, wondering how their destiny was ripped away. But none is crying foul, nor are any protesting the outcome, since Clemson won fair and square. Doing so would be the sour grapes behavior of spoiled brats.
So how is it then, that if we can accept the results of a sporting event, we still have people rejecting the legitimacy of President Trump? And why all the protest marches now? The time to protest Donald Trump was Nov. 8, so it remains unclear what these people are protesting.
Since it’s been an unusually eventful inaugural week, here are some of the more interesting developments:
1) We’ll start with the administration. Self-inflicted errors, exacerbated by ego and inexperience, got the Trump team off on the wrong foot. The administration, already at war with the media, began by admonishing the press for its "incorrect" reporting of the inauguration crowd size – despite tweeting a photo that just happened to be from President Obama’s 2009 inauguration. How that mistake was made, if it was a mistake at all, is incomprehensible.
The president’s spokesman berated the press for not reporting that the inauguration was the most attended in history. Despite facts showing it was not (comparative photos, ridership on the Metro, etc.), the administration doubled down, and looked more foolish by the minute. The icing on the cake was when another spokesman stated that their position was based on "alternative facts."
Too bad they haven’t yet realized that living in an alternative universe isn’t the best way to get a new administration rolling.
Most important, who cares how many people attended the inauguration? It is absolutely meaningless. OK, so fewer people attended this one than the last. Does that somehow make President Trump less of a president? Does that delegitimize his win, or at least knock it down a few pegs?
Maybe some didn’t attend because of weather, or watched on their smartphones, or just didn’t feel like going. Who cares?
Those making it an issue are grasping at straws, attempting to undermine the president’s credibility. Newsflash: It won’t work. People are concerned about their health care, Social Security and jobs – not crowd size.
That said, when will the president learn? Mr. Trump will never be the most popular figure, nor the world’s richest man. But he needs to understand that what he does have – and indeed, who he now is – trumps everything else. Donald Trump, as president of the United States, is the most powerful man on earth. Given the Republican Congress, he is poised to effect more change than perhaps any leader in American history. It is time, once and for all, for him to rise above the pettiness by not acknowledging irrelevant issues that can derail him.
For President Trump to be successful, he must start acting, well … presidential. Instead of worrying about crowd sizes or "Saturday Night Live" or any other extraneous topics, the president should heed the words of Martin Sheen’s character in "The American President:" "You fight the fights that need fighting."
2) Since when did President Obama become the yardstick for everything? From the number of votes to inauguration crowd sizes to the pace of cabinet confirmations, the media seems obsessed with comparing the two men. Why? They, and the political environment in which they governed, are apples and oranges. No offense to President Obama, but it’s time to look ahead, not back.
3) Speaking of not looking back, it is astounding how many Republicans continue to blame President Obama and Hillary Clinton for so many things. Three points: A) President Obama accomplished virtually nothing over the last six years because the Republicans dominated Congress; therefore, much of that GOP blame is misallocated; 2) Republicans justifiably criticized President Obama for his near-constant blaming of George W. Bush; it is hypocritical for them to now do the same; and 3) the past is just that: The past. It is time to forge ahead with bold new ideas to jumpstart America. Those mired in the past are doomed to repeat its mistakes.
And, while admittedly a generalization, the only people who seem angrier than the Clinton losers are the Trump winners. As victims of discriminatory, double-standard policies, many have justifiable reasons to feel that way. However, they must understand that arguing with logic and compassion will always trump anger and vindictiveness. If the country is to ever unify, all sides need to grasp that lesson.
4) The fact that 66 congressmen boycotted the inauguration, social media backlash caused entertainer Jennifer Holliday to withdraw from festivities, and vile comments were directed toward a 16-year-old girl over her decision to sing the National Anthem at the inauguration, illustrates why our society is so divisive. Shame on them and their horrendous message that boycotts, threats and insults, even toward the young and innocent, are acceptable when things don’t go your way.
5) And then we have the protests. To quote former Eagles running back Ricky Watters: "For who? For what?"
From the anti-capitalists who smashed their way into a Starbucks (no doubt to grab a smoked butterscotch latte to fuel their violence), to the Women’s March organizers, none has yet provided clarity on what they were protesting. And when liberal feminist commentator Cokie Roberts agrees with that point, you know it’s bad.
Was it to protest the election result? Sorry, but that ship sailed, especially since many more of them could have voted, but didn’t. Was it rebelling against the electoral college and Hillary winning the popular vote? Ditto. How about Donald Trump’s sexist and insulting comments? Yeah, that was hashed out over the last 18 months in that thing called a presidential campaign. So, what then? Was it to send Mr. Trump a message that woman cannot be ignored? Try again, since many women were unwelcome on the march because they were pro-life. Inclusive, the march was not. Or was it the stagnant economy? Gee, that’s great. Blame the guy who’s been on the job for one day.
The real reason for the protests is what this column has frequently discussed: Protesting has become America’s new pastime. The "coddled generation," which has been raised to believe it’s entitled to everything, sprang into action because it felt "offended" that Trump won, facts be damned.
Sure, protesting is the people’s right. So is stupidity. When the two go hand in hand, the result isn’t pretty.
If America is to move forward, it’s time for the grown-ups – on both sides, starting with the president himself – to take charge. Because as Michael Douglas’ presidential character says, also in "The American President:" "We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them."
Time to get cracking. Together.
Chris Freind is an independent columnist and commentator. His print column appears every Wednesday. He can be reached at [email protected].