News item: President-elect Donald J. Trump, stung by the repeated mocking satire of “Saturday Night Live” and ultra-ultra-ultra liberal actor Alec Baldwin, tweets out some outrage over another Baldwin send-up, this time of “President Trump” after the election. In the skit, Trump’s nervously pacing, seeking reassurance that others will do all the work. “You’ll do everything, right?” he asks “Vice President Mike Pence” in one part of the piece and in another segment speaks into his I-Phone with Siri, asking how to kill ISIS.
In response, the president-elect went to Twitter: “I watched parts of @nbcsnl Saturday Night Live last night. It is a totally one-sided, biased show – nothing funny at all. Equal time for us?”
News item No. 2: Vice President-elect Mike Pence, the Serene Silver Fox, attends a Broadway production, “Hamilton,” and receives a rather stern lecture from the stage about upholding American values, presumably a slap at Trump from a theater community eager to participate in President-in-waiting Clinton’s inauguration show at the Kennedy Center. Pence got booed a little, too, but reported he told his daughter, “That’s what freedom sounds like.”
But in response, the president-elect didn’t much like the sound of freedom Pence was talking about. Once again, a tweet: “Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton, cameras blazing. This should not happen!”
And of course, Trump once infamously tweeted about the Fox News reporter with whom he had a confrontation: “I refuse to call Megyn Kelly a bimbo, because that would not be politically correct. Instead I will only call her a lightweight reporter!”
The latest Trump tweet came in response to Hillary Clinton’s increasing lead in the popular vote and her campaign joining some kind of recount effort in one state: “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide,” he tweeted, “I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”
I know it’s hard to give orders to a billionaire, or even someone who’s close to being a billionaire, but Trump’s people need to get him a facsimile cell phone to play with and hide the real one in some couch cushions in FBI headquarters at Trump Tower.
Because, you see, absent these latest tweets, the public in general, excepting perhaps the most ardent Clinton supporters, stands ready to cut Trump a little slack. But he keeps tightening the string.
There’s always a period of bitterness after a close election, magnified this time because of Trump’s abrasive attacks and yes, the improbability of his victory, which was not foreseen by all the la-dee-da pundits north of Times Square. That was seen in the days following the election, when the Clinton supporters were predicting an economic collapse worldwide and speculating on how Trump would reject overtures of help from President Obama.
There has been no collapse. And after calling Obama a “good man” following their first White House meeting, Trump reportedly has been in frequent touch with the president from whom he said he would seek counsel.
People do reach a point where they want to say: Give the president-elect credit for the victory, hope he does well for the country, and judge him by how he performs. Trump, after all, has never been a political ideologue, and his wild ways on the campaign smacked of a fellow putting together a reality TV show. He seemed stunned by winning.
But win he did. And now, the president-elect needs to understand that if he’ll cease tweeting and allow the naysayers to speak their piece, he’ll bring more people if not to his side at least to a wait-and-see point. But when he tweets, he looks like a petulant bully who can’t take any criticism.
He’s going to be the president, after all. That’s the ultimate answer to critics – a Twitter tweeter who can use the handle, “POTUS.” Not that he should.
Deputy editorial page editor Jim Jenkins can be reached at 919-829-4513 or at firstname.lastname@example.org