I regret to inform you that the president of the United States is woke now.

I mean, he has to realize that if Kaepernick comes back he’s going to kneel during the anthem — along with most, if not all, of the rest of the league this fall. Remember what Trump said about that a few years ago? “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when someone disrespects our flag to say, `Get that son of a bitch off the field right now! Out. He’s fired! He’s fired!”

To be clear, he’s still against the kneeling protests…

…he just doesn’t seem to think they’re disqualifying anymore. Why not?

Here’s another highly uncharacteristic comment from this same interview. Did he get some bad polling news this afternoon (apart from the obvious one from Reuters)? It sounds like something put the fear of God into him to convince him that he needs to be more conciliatory about protests of all sorts even if he doesn’t agree with every aspect of them:

Coincidentally, the Times has a story out this afternoon about Trump’s aides worrying that his behavior lately has seemed so “trapped and defensive” that “many advisers wonder if he is truly interested in serving a second term.” Quote: “With the Russia investigation and impeachment, White House officials and others said, Mr. Trump was eager to fight, and did so fairly effectively. Now, they see his behavior as self-defeating, and his bursts of both anger and self-praise as futile against an invisible enemy like the virus and a protest movement he’s shown little sympathy for.” But there’s a notable recent exception to that rule, the article goes on to note:

This past weekend, Mr. Trump eventually made what allies called a wise political move in abruptly announcing he would change the date of a rally his aides had planned for him in Tulsa, Okla., on Juneteenth, a holiday honoring the end of slavery in the United States. Even that was done in an ad-hoc fashion as Mr. Trump failed to tell aides about the change before tweeting it.

Yeah, rescheduling his rally so that it didn’t coincide with Juneteenth was an unusual show of deference by him to the priorities of a group that isn’t part of his base. Maybe his aides really have managed to impress upon him lately that a softer touch, especially with respect to racial matters, might help him rebound against Biden.

The latest numbers bear that out. New from Quinnipiac:

The only group that opposes the protests is Republicans. Even Trump’s base of whites without a college degree are 51/41 in favor. The numbers looked similar across various groups in response to the question, “Do you think that discrimination against black people in the United States today is a serious problem, or don’t you think so?” Americans want to believe that their president shares their attitudes about this, however unlikely that may be in reality. Trump reportedly made a good show yesterday behind closed doors when the met with the families of several victims of race-related violence, with Ahmaud Arbery’s mother saying afterward, “I was very, very emotional throughout the whole conference. He was very compassionate. He showed major concern for all families. Not just one family, but for all families.” More of that can only help him.

By the way, the same Quinnipiac poll asked Americans how they feel about the left’s idea of abolishing police departments. Answer: Not great.

People were more receptive to the idea of reducing funding for the local PD and shifting that money to social services, but only up to a point. That polled at 41/54. And there was a revealing gap when people were asked whether they approve of the job the police are doing generally in the United States versus whether they approve of the job the police are doing in their specific community. It was 49/44 on the former — but 77/19 on the latter, with even a majority of black Americans saying they approve. That reminds me of polls showing that people hate Congress generally but tend to approve of the performance of their local representative. People may dislike the institution and deem it in need of reform but it seems to work well enough for their personal needs.

Here’s Charles Barkley identifying a minor flaw in the “defund the police” argument.