Donald Trump is LaVar Ball -- with nuclear weapons

Trump's war of words with Lavar Ball
Trump's war of words with Lavar Ball

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Trump's war of words with Lavar Ball 01:41

Story highlights

  • Issac Bailey: Trump and LaVar Ball are like two spoiled toddlers in their spat over whether Trump gets credit for springing Ball's son from China after shoplifting charge
  • Bailey: In their stubbornness and need for attention, the two are very alike. Big difference, though: toddler Trump has nuclear codes

Issac Bailey is an interim member of The Charlotte Observer editorial board and the James K. Batten Professor of Public Policy at Davidson College. He was a 2014 Harvard University Nieman fellow. Follow him on Twitter: @ijbailey. The views expressed are his own.

(CNN)President Donald Trump versus LaVar Ball: It's Toddler-in-Chief versus Dad Toddler.

One needs constant adulation like he needs oxygen. The other needs attention as though his heart would stop beating if the spotlight were turned somewhere else.
Issac Bailey
One is a white dude with an infamous hairdo and a dubious history on race: he once purportedly said black people had a lazy trait, and kicked off his presidential campaign calling Mexican immigrants murderers and rapists.
    One is a black dude with a bald head known for (laughingly) opining that his eldest son didn't win a national title at UCLA because the team supposedly had too many slow-footed white players. (No one tell him about a basketball Hall of Famer named Larry Bird or how Luke Maye made the most important shot during the North Carolina Tar Heels' journey to the title this past April.)
    The story that has led us into this playpen began when three UCLA players, including Ball's middle son LiAngelo, were caught shoplifting in China. They were arrested and faced prison time.
    Trump, among a bevy of US officials, personally intervened to get them home. The players apologized for their behavior and even eventually publicly thanked Trump.
    Had Donald Trump or LeVar Ball the maturity of a typical 12-year-old, the national portion of the story would have ended there, while the players tried to make amends and the university and basketball team decided on an appropriate punishment. (At the moment, all three players have been suspended from the UCLA basketball team indefinitely.)
    Instead, Trump and Ball decided to act like the little children they are, with Ball saying Trump deserved no credit, and Trump declaring he should have left the players in China because Ball refused to bow and kiss the President's ring.
    Trump: I should have left UCLA players in jail
    Trump: I should have left UCLA players in jail

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      Trump: I should have left UCLA players in jail

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    Trump: I should have left UCLA players in jail 01:28
    While many have suggested Trump's reaction indicates a man incapable of tolerating a person of color challenging him, or failing to show enough deference -- which I don't dispute -- this situation is unique to these boy brats. That's why they are a match made in reality TV heaven.
    They both do and say stupid things and the camera loves them for it. I'd watch the LaVar-Donald Show (or Donald-LaVar, given that they'd fight over whose name appeared first in the title), at least the initial episode, for the same reason too many of us got caught up in Jerry Springer fever some years back. Springer was a shock host who catered to our most prurient, illogical desires and got rich because we gave in.
    Trump tapped into those desires, too, to win just enough votes in just enough states to become President, while Ball has also done so to sell over-priced shoes and establish a brand for himself and his three sons.
    This would all be funny if one of those child-men weren't in control of a nuclear arsenal and able to trigger a war that could end life as we know it. It would be funny if one of those men didn't have sway over the fates of roughly 800,000 DACA recipients, or the US health care system, or the passage of a massive tax cut touted as a gift for the middle class, even though it is skewed in favor of the rich and corporations.
    LaVar Ball gets testy with female reporter
    LaVar Ball gets testy with female reporter

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      LaVar Ball gets testy with female reporter

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    LaVar Ball gets testy with female reporter 01:16
    It would be funny if one of those men didn't make it even harder for women to report and receive justice for claims of sexual harassment and assault, because we put him in the White House despite numerous credible claims against him for those very things.
    I'm sure every modern-day president, from Carter to Obama, would have been ashamed to be compared to Ball, a father annoyingly and frustratingly adorable in a helicopter-parent, Kardashian kind of way. But not Trump. In Ball, Trump sees his equal, a carnival barker expert at getting his face on TV.
    Trump has so debased the office he won in November and lowered the standards of decency, it would make sense if he called up his pals in the WWE and asked if he and Ball could stage a fight in which they got to pummel each other the way Trump did before he became the most powerful man in the world.
    I'd buy a ticket for that, maybe even two, though I'd make a small demand: that Trump stopped being President first. That shouldn't be too hard, given that he's only pretending to be one anyway.