Few people have stronger conservative bona fides than Rush Limbaugh, but even the paragon of right-wing radio is starting to have doubts about the way President Trump is tackling NFL players' national anthem protests.
Limbaugh, of course, thinks the players are disrespecting the anthem, the flag, the cops and the military. But he expressed fears Wednesday that Trump is leading America toward a slippery slope by using the power of the presidency to demand the NFL force players to stand for the anthem.
"Trump is in the right, don’t misunderstand," Limbaugh said on his show. "But no president should have dictatorial power over individual behavior. A president should not be able to tell the owners of a business how their employees are gonna act and what they’re gonna swear allegiance to and all that. That’s up to the owners to do, and it’s up to the owners to come up with a system of punishment if their employees violate company policy, like it is in any other business."
Limbaugh stressed that he thinks Trump's "motives are pure" but he said he doesn't "think that it is useful or helpful for any employee anywhere to be forced to do something because the government says they must. That scares hell out of me."
"We don’t want the president being able to demand anybody that he’s unhappy with behave in a way he requires," he added. "That’s scary to me, even if the president’s somebody I happen to like."
Limbaugh believes Trump's intervention worked, however. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to all 32 teams Tuesday that said players "should stand" during the national anthem, and that the NFL would present a plan next week aimed at moving "past the controversy."
Limbaugh hailed the news, saying "I don't care how you slice it, it constitutes a Trump win."
"I’m not so sure that if Trump had not applied pressure, that they would have changed," Limbaugh said.