Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
— Charles Caleb Colton, Many Things in A Few Words 1824
It was a brilliant move. He one-upped Alec Baldwin of Saturday Night Live (SNL) who has become famous for his impersonations of Mr. Trump, impersonations that have repeatedly raised the ire of Mr. Trump. In a moment that no one would have ever expected, Mr. Trump preempted SNL by his performance on Saturday, March 2, 1919, in front of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CACI). But I get ahead of myself.
Fans of SNL remember with pleasure its pre-Christmas show modeled after “It’s a Wonderful Life.” On SNL it was called “It’s a Wonderful Trump” and it raised the ire of Mr. Trump who took to his favorite medium, Twitter, in order to criticize SNL. In his tweet, Mr. Trump said: “A REAL scandal is the one-sided coverage, hour by hour, of networks like NBC & Democrat spin machines like Saturday Night Live. . . Should be tested in courts, can’t be legal? Only defame & belittle! Collusion?”
Mr. Trump’s threats notwithstanding, SNL continued to make fun of Mr. Trump through, among other means, media medium, Alec Baldwin, whose impersonations of Mr. Trump are so convincing that they are a source of endless amusement for viewers of SNL.
With unaccustomed prescience, Mr. Trump took the air out of any impersonation that might have been contemplated by Alec Baldwin, to mark the end of a week that was one of the least successful weeks of the Trump presidency, a no mean feat given some of its other weeks. The week of February 24th could easily be described as “The Week That Was.”
It was the week in which Mr. Trump’s torrid love affair with Mr. Kim of North Korea, came to a screeching halt.
It was the week in which his former very best friend and personal lawyer described Mr. Trump as a “racist, con-man and cheat” and, in an extensive public hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform gave what can only be described as an unflattering portrait of Mr. Trump.
It was the week in which the fake news New York Times reported that Jared Kushner’s top secret security clearance was given him because Mr. Trump ordered that he be given that clearance over the objections of top security officials in his administration.
And as if all that wasn’t enough to give Mr. Trump heartburn, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, the parents of Otto Warmbier, who were Mr. Trump’s guests at the State of the Union speech, publicly took issue with Mr. Trump’s comments on their son’s death following his meeting with Mr. Kim. Mr. Trump said that Mr. Kim “felt badly about it. . . . He tells me that he didn’t know about it and I will take him at his word.” Responding to that, the Warmbiers said Kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity. No excuses or lavish praise can change that.”
All in all, the events of the week offered Alec Baldwin great opportunities to imitate Mr. Trump were he to be on SNL. Not wanting to be preempted, a few short hours before SNL was to air on March 2, 2019, Mr. Trump gave a speech to the CPAC that was held outside Washington. Mr. Trump viewed the speech as an opportunity to upstage Mr. Baldwin, in the event Mr. Baldwin intended to make fun of him on the SNL episode that was to air a few hours after Mr. Trump spoke The effort was a greater success than anyone could have imagined.
After Mr. Trump had been introduced by the master of ceremonies, Mr. Trump came on stage applauding himself (as is his custom whenever he makes an appearance.) He stopped applauding himself for a moment and then, recalling how Alec Baldwin would stage this entry, he went to the stand on which an American flag was in place and in a consummate imitation of Alec Baldwin, put his arms around the flag and hugged it as if to make sure it could not get away. Once it was firmly in his arms he gazed at the audience with the kind of goofy smile that only he and Mr. Baldwin are really good at. When he was finished hugging the flag, he sauntered over to the podium and began his speech which was, for the first ten minutes, the scripted speech that had been prepared for him to read. For the next 1 hour and 50 minutes, he adlibbed random comments, delivering them in the way that Mr. Baldwin does when imitating him on SNL. At one point during his speech, he displayed a bit of prescience by saying he was going to regret his speech. He may. The rest of us can only regret the fact that Mr. Baldwin did not make an appearance on SNL that day so we could compare the performance of the two actors while Mr. Trump’s performance was fresh in our minds. As a result, we have to content ourselves with recalling Mr. Trump’s brilliant, if lengthy, imitation of Mr. Baldwin. Who’d have thought he had it in him.