You generally can’t know how history will look back on your own time.
But it feels safe to say that 2017 will be a doozy. So we probably should have expected this — before the year could end, a story that is as much an avatar for the absurdity of this year as any we’ve seen; a story I’m calling “The President and the Rich Creep.”
The President, as you might expect, was a magnanimous figure. He was larger than life — not only because he actually was a startlingly substantial physical presence, but because of a sort of buzz that surrounded him wherever he went. His hair was a creation distinctly his own, and his style was inimitable.
He didn’t talk like your average politician. He didn’t talk much, to be honest, and when he did it fell largely into two categories: quotable (if ultimately meaningless) catchphrases, like “I’m just ‘bout that action, boss,” and ardent support for his community and the people within it.
The President loved the people.
The Rich Creep, as you might have guessed, couldn’t have cared less about the people, except for one of the people: himself. He was famous as much for his disrespect of people as for anything.
The President and the Rich Creep both had popular Twitter accounts. Their tweets paint a clearer picture of their personalities than I ever could.
The President doesn’t tweet very much — he’s the President, after all — but when he does it’s often about his community-building activities. The week before Thanksgiving, he tweeted: “Passin out turkeys in the hood like Nino Brown Babi!!!! Yes lawd!!!!”
Passin out turkeys in the hood like Nino Brown Babi!!!! Yes lawd!!!! pic.twitter.com/AIgX8kBsO5
— Shawn Lynch (@MoneyLynch) November 12, 2017
(As I said, the President didn’t talk like your average politician, but we came to see his distinct Oaklandish dialect as charming. He also tweeted about his own line of apparel fairly often, which was a little weird for a President, but we got used to a lot in 2017 and they made a lot of cool stuff.)
When the President visited Mexico, he made sure to show his inclusive attitude with a friendly tweet: “What’s hannin wit my AMIGOS and CHICAS!!!!”
What’s hannin wit my AMIGOS and CHICAS!!!! pic.twitter.com/onXHPsY9cT
— Shawn Lynch (@MoneyLynch) November 18, 2017
Meanwhile, the Rich Creep not only demonized Mexico and its people, but made up strange lies about their financial intentions: “With Mexico being one of the highest crime Nations in the world, we must have THE WALL. Mexico will pay for it through reimbursement/other.”
With Mexico being one of the highest crime Nations in the world, we must have THE WALL. Mexico will pay for it through reimbursement/other.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 27, 2017
Mexico kept telling everyone that the Rich Creep was full of it, but he either didn’t hear them or didn’t care to listen.
He tweeted constantly, and it wasn’t pretty. He beefed both up and down, he spread false information and condemned quality reporting as “fake news.” He delighted in retweeting compliments about himself.
As you probably know from other parts of the history books, lots of other problematic stuff was happening in 2017 — in particular, issues of race and gender were all over the news as the last generation of regressive, oppressive old white men fought desperately to retain the power they had unfairly wielded throughout America’s history. Among the numerous persistent injustices was the alarming rate at which unarmed people of color were being assaulted and often killed by police.
It was in that environment that a brave football player named Colin Kaepernick started a movement — quietly at first, simply exercising his ever-so-American right to protest by sitting down during the ceremonial playing of the national anthem before a game. (We still engaged in that strange tradition back in 2017.) Kaepernick’s spark lit a fire, though, and the protest of police brutality spread throughout the NFL and polarized the viewership.
It’s not entirely clear why the Rich Creep felt compelled to enter this fray, but he was very, very upset. You see, he was not a very big fan of the First Amendment and its guarantee of “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” He really didn’t care much for any of the amendments except the second one, actually — a poorly phrased comma splice that he and his ilk chronically, and probably deliberately, misinterpreted.
The President, being a man of the people, loved the First Amendment. (At least, he probably did. He never specifically commented on the subject.) He, too, participated in the protest of police brutality by sitting during the anthem. (At least, he probably did. He never actually specifically commented on what, or even whether, he was protesting). When he visited Mexico, he even made a point of showing respect for his hosts by standing for their anthem despite sitting for America’s. (At least, we think it was a show of respect. Maybe he was just adjusting his pads.)
We will probably never know why the Rich Creep couldn’t just stay out of it, but he cracked off a tweet first thing in the morning: “Marshawn Lynch of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders stands for the Mexican Anthem and sits down to boos for our National Anthem. Great disrespect! Next time NFL should suspend him for remainder of season. Attendance and ratings way down.”
Marshawn Lynch of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders stands for the Mexican Anthem and sits down to boos for our National Anthem. Great disrespect! Next time NFL should suspend him for remainder of season. Attendance and ratings way down.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 20, 2017
(By that point, we didn’t bother to comment on the lies, misinformation and declarations about how others should handle their business. We had other things to worry about.)
The President was above engaging with this sort of trollish behavior. Luckily for us, his mother was happy to sink to address the Rich Creep: “what NFL team do Trump own ? oh yeah they wouldnt let him have one ,!! LMAO”
what NFL team do Trump own ? oh yeah they wouldnt let him have one ,!! LMAO https://t.co/1rPa5jfMjE
— Delisa Lynch (@MommaLynch24) November 20, 2017
(This was a reference to one of the Rich Creep’s many business failures. You see, he was very rich but not because he was successful in business; he actually did not grow the fortune his father handed to him as much as you would expect.)
Despite the President’s best efforts to avoid drama and keep it moving, he was inextricably linked to a Twitter spat between his mother and the Rich Creep. Which brings the story to an anticlimactic and marginally soul-crushing conclusion.
Except, of course, that’s not really the end. You know there’s one more thing, because nothing ended that easily in 2017, and because you already know what’s coming …
The Rich Creep was in the White House, and President Marshawn Lynch was playing for the Oakland Raiders.
Matt Kolsky is a sports media professional (or something like that) and lives with an aging Shih Tzu/Schnauser mix in Berkeley. You can hear his podcast, The Toy Department, on iTunes or wherever else fine podcasts are free. Find him on Twitter @thekolsky to share your personal feelings about this article or any other topic, he will respond to most tweets that do not contain racial slurs.