Donald Trump is now tweeting about Hamilton, again.
The Republican president-elect has been on a tear about the blockbuster Broadway show ever since the show’s cast, made up mostly of gays and people of color, had the temerity to speak to incoming vice president Mike Pence about the meaning of democracy after a show on Friday night.
The cast’s statement to Pence was polite and reverential. They even admonished the audience for booing Pence. But that didn’t stop Trump from utterly freaking out.
For the past twenty-four hours, Trump has repeatedly Tweeted about the incident. Trump has claimed falsely that Pence was “harassed.” Trump has made the bizarre claim that theater is supposed to be a “safe space” for politicians. Trump has demanded repeatedly that the cast apologize to Pence. And this morning, sensing that his calls for Hamilton to apologize are getting no traction, Trump claimed in yet another tweet that the show is “overrated.
There’s also this Trump tweet from last night, that Trump deleted less than an hour later.
Ivanka — and the entire world — disagrees:
Some think Trump is using the Hamilton faux-controversy to deflect attention from the $25m Trump University fraud settlement. I don’t think that’s true. This is Trump at his core. The man is supremely insecure — thus the gold-leaf Liberace-inspired Saudi-palace that Trump calls home — and simply can’t handle criticism or dissent. Hamilton isn’t a glitch, it’s an authoritarian feature.
So, no, I don’t think we should ignore “Hamilton,” nor ignore the irony of Trump calling for the suppression of free speech in art, nor Trump’s fundamental misunderstanding of the origins, and lessons, of the American revolution.
Having said that, it’s worth discussing Trump’s abysmal record when it comes to civility. Trump wants the cast of Hamilton to apologize for politely asking the incoming VP to honor the Constitution, while Trump himself led a movement questioning the patriotism of America’s first black president simply because the man was black. And Trump has never apologized for that indignity.
Nor has Trump apologized for attacking the war record of John McCain.
Or for attacking the patriotism of the Khan family.
Or for mocking the disability of a New York Times reporter.
Or for questioning the integrity of Judge Curiel simply because he’s of Mexican origin.
Or for calling Mexican immigrants “rapists.” (While “some” are nice people.)
Or for siccing the crowds at his speeches on protesters.
Or for suggesting that Ted Cruz’s dad was involved in the Kennedy assassination.
Or for suggesting that Ted Cruz’s wife was ugly.
Or for talking about Megyn Kelly’s period.
Or for talking about the size of his manhood.
Donald Trump wants to talk about civility. Donald Trump is one the most boorish, uncivil men in America. The notion of him schooling anyone outside of the WWE on civility is laughable.
And a word about Mike Pence. Mike Pence got booed by a crowd at a show. Mike Pence once wanted to cut AIDS funding and spend the money instead on curing gay people of being gay. Mike Pence deserves a I more than a simple boo. (Cabbage comes to mind).
Donald Trump harnessed the power of racism and xenophobia, and sugar-coated it with a patina of credibility, in order to propel himself to the White House. He’s the last person to be lecturing anyone about civility. And while I suspect Trump is tweeting about Hamilton because Trump simply can’t help himself — he’s a teenage bully who never grew up; forever angry, forever insecure — it’s a fair concern to worry about the Hamilton story distracting us from the ‘real’ problem with Donald Trump.
One lesson I learned long ago is that you can’t always pick and choose which argument is going to work. You may not “like” the Hamilton story. You may think it motivates Trump’s base and therefore is counterproductive. Or you may believe that other stories have more merit and more gravitas. The thing is, that may or may not be true. No one knows which story is going to stick, which story is going to cause maximum damage. And I’ve found that the story that works isn’t usually the one you would have chosen.
As James Carville is reputed to have said long ago, you throw everything against the wall and see what sticks. It’s not a problem that everyone is throwing everything at Trump. It’s only a problem when they stop.