We could have predicted public reaction when the Baylor Lady Bears accepted an invitation from President Trump to visit the White House in recognition of the team’s 2019 NCAA women’s championship. Many who adore this unorthodox president cheered the visit, set for Monday. Others harboring deep reservations about the norm-busting chief executive suggested the team, individually or jointly, spurn the invitation to send a message about the president’s rhetoric and behavior.
After the Washington Post posted the story, a fan voiced longstanding admiration for Lady Bears coach Kim Mulkey going back to her days playing for Louisiana Tech, then added: “Ms. Mulkey, go to the White House with Trump in it, you will not exist to me ever again. Just. Don’t. Do. It. Trump is the caveat. Go to the White House with Trump in it, and I’ll know that you have no respect for the impressionable young women that you coach, and I’ll spend the rest of my fandom rooting for the other team so you’d not be in a position to return to the White House ever again.”
On our own Facebook page, politics also erupted. One fan, for instance, found the meeting potent: “Awesome! Say hello to President Donald J. Trump from me. I’m his biggest fan. So proud of you gals, I watched every game.” Another, claiming to be a graduate of Baylor’s Truett Theological Seminary, lamented that what should be an honor would instead amount to dishonor because of the president’s attitudes regarding women. When someone called him “judgmental,” he replied: “It’s judgmental for me to not want these incredible female athletes to visit a man who has been recorded bragging about sexually assaulting women and degrading them based on their looks?”
Our take: The BU players should put all this political sparring aside, enjoy their visit to our nation’s capital and revel in the high honor at hand, especially given that Mulkey and earlier teams visited the White House for NCAA championships in 2005 and 2012 — and that meant being hosted by other controversial presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Who knows? Maybe the example of the Lady Bears during their visit will enlighten national leaders about such qualities as sacrifice, honor, hard work and civility.
Don’t get us wrong. Given what many Americans have now gleaned from the Mueller report, we would understand and respect anyone who declined the visit. But in the final analysis, at least for an hour or so, this festive occasion should be all about the Lady Bears, not our state of affairs. If Baylor wants to ensure the trip is edifying for the players, then the university can ensure the Lady Bears get to see the sights and consider the remarkable inscriptions at the Jefferson Memorial and Lincoln Memorial — words that should be engraved on the heart of every American. In that sense, they could ultimately claim a better understanding of foundational principles and democratic values than much of our nation. Baylor may also want to consider treating the Lady Bears to a proper dinner somewhere in D.C., given what this fast-food-loving president is very likely to offer them at the White House, however lovingly.