Early Sunday morning, Donald Trump was still recovering from the glumly unfunny opening sketch on Saturday Night Live. A seemingly endless spoof of the second presidential debate, it featured once again a heavily made-up Alec Baldwin doing his Trump impersonation. Each time he does it, Baldwin’s Trump gets worse — the voice Baldwin was using on Saturday sounded more like Richard Nixon’s than Trump’s, and he just doesn’t have Trump’s signature hand movements down at all. Trump tweeted: “Watched Saturday Night Live hit job on me. Time to retire the boring and unfunny show. Alec Baldwin portrayal stinks. Media rigging election!”
Ordinary viewers have been saying for years variations on Trump’s assertion that it’s “time to retire the boring and unfunny show” — I used to recap SNL every week, and that was the most common comment, by far. While I don’t think the media is “rigging” the election — I’m not a conspiracy theorist — I certainly agree with Trump that SNL’s political coverage has been “boring and unfunny,” though not for the same reasons Trump would assert. Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton impersonation is fun and sharp — zeroing in on the notion that Hillary is an awkward, un-spontaneous campaigner, McKinnon has found a good soft target for satire. (I’m not even going to get into the way the SNL opening built to the inevitable joke about red-sweater-man Ken Bone — the media’s faux adoration of Bone is a pure example of condescension.)
Watched Saturday Night Live hit job on me.Time to retire the boring and unfunny show. Alec Baldwin portrayal stinks. Media rigging election!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2016
But I heartily dislike the way SNL keeps insisting on — hammering away at — the idea that this election is a done deal, that Clinton has it in the bag. The same weekend SNL was pushing this foolish assertion, the Sunday morning news shows were citing a new ABC/Washington Post poll that showed Clinton leading Trump by a mere 4 percentage points — given the margin of error, that amounts to a dead heat. Add to this the fact that polling consistently underestimated Trump in nearly every Republican primary debate, and you begin to think that it’s folly, at this point, to predict a Clinton win, let alone a guaranteed one.
As a result, it’s easy for Trump and his angriest followers to use SNL’s point of view — one that is increasingly common among various idiotically complacent liberals — to self-stoke paranoia and an embattled rage that finds expression in the appalling notion of a “rigged election.”
This Wednesday, we’ll have a final debate, moderated by Fox News’ Chris Wallace, and you can be sure the Oct. 22 SNL, to be hosted by Tom Hanks, will feature yet another Trump-Clinton debate parody, one that will treat this election as just another in the decades-old tradition of SNL presidential-year sketches. But it’s not just another election, and I wish SNL had something novel to say about that.
Saturday Night Live airs Saturdays at 11:35 p.m. on NBC.