It’s easy to dismiss any one of Donald Trump’s tweets as ephemera because, well, there are just so many of them. That goes double for a Trump tweet about a sporting event given the fact that he, uh, isn’t an expert in that arena.
And yet, there’s just something about the President’s tweet on Sunday about the result of the Kentucky Derby that makes it impossible to simply ignore. Because it’s about more than the tweet. It’s about the man behind the tweet. A man who also happens to be the leader of the free world.
“The Kentuky Derby decision was not a good one. It was a rough & tumble race on a wet and sloppy track, actually, a beautiful thing to watch. Only in these days of political correctness could such an overturn occur. The best horse did NOT win the Kentucky Derby - not even close!?” (Trump later corrected his original tweet – spelling “Kentucky” properly.)
If you aren’t familiar with how the race on Saturday at Churchill Downs played out here it is: The favorite – Maximum Security – was in the lead coming around the final turn. The horse, for unknown reasons, swerved to the outside of the track – impeding another horse. Although Maximum Security crossed the finish line first, a challenge was filed and the horse was eventually disqualified. The second place finisher – Country House – was declared the winner. Most people who know something about horse-racing – and that is not me – agreed it was the right decision.
Because he has been president for two-plus years, that he decided to sound off on a horse race isn’t really surprising. Nor, really, is the fact that a disqualification of the horse that was the clear class of the field might draw Trump’s ire. He’s BIG into winning – as you might have noticed. And he’s not, uh, big into playing by the rules.
But, it’s the way Trump chose to take issue with the result that is truly, truly baffling. “Only in these days of political correctness could such an overturn occur,” he wrote.
Let me offer this bit of pithy analysis into that perspective: WHAT THE HELL IS HE EVEN TALKING ABOUT?
Yes, Trump’s war on political correctness sits at the heart of his appeal for a lot of voters. He ran in 2016 on the idea that liberals were ruining America by worshiping at the shrine of political correctness. Trump’s candidacy – in word and deed – was a rejection of that idea. He said what he thought when he thought it – consequences be damned. And people loved it.
So, there’s that. But, I dare you – triple dog dare you – to explain to me how Maximum Security being disqualified from the Kentucky Derby can be laid at the feet of PC culture. It’s a horse! It might have been spooked by seeing its reflection in a puddle on the muddy track! (Seriously, that is a theory.) It might have been bothered by the crowd noise coming around the final turn. It might have just, like, decided it didn’t want to be near the rail anymore. Who the hell knows? But the point is that, whatever the horse’s motivations, it broke a long-established rule in horse racing. Yes, this might be the first time in the history of the Kentucky Derby that the horse who crossed the finish line first wasn’t the winner, but anyone who has spent a day (or two) at the track has likely seen a horse DQ’ed for this exact violation – albeit in lower-profile races.
In short: This has absolutely nothing to do with political correctness. Unless following the rules is, uh, PC?
Most people likely rolled their eyes when they saw or heard about Trump’s tweet. Which I get. It’s not a nuclear showdown with a rogue foreign power the separation of children from their parents at the border. A horse race – no matter how much money is bet on it – isn’t life and death stuff.
But that the President of the United States ascribed this whole thing to the damage done by political correctness suggests a monomania that is, at minimum, very weird and, at most, deeply worrisome.