People with “I’m With Her” back tattoos don’t seem to get how wince-inducingly pathetic it was for Hillary Clinton to attempt to rub Donald Trump’s peccadilloes in his face at the Grammys last night, so picture this:
A year after blowing a 28–3 lead in the Super Bowl, Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn appears on national television, his eyes full of mockery, to read aloud that gossipy Sports Illustrated story about troubles within the New England Patriots organization. With a victorious smirk on his face, Quinn reads these words: “Brady always knew the hits were coming during Monday morning film sessions — ‘The quarterback at Foxborough High could make that throw,’ Belichick often would say after replaying a Brady misfire.” The audience guffaws in approval.
Except Quinn would never dare do that even if he wanted to, for one simple reason: He does not get to make fun of Tom Brady, because Tom Brady beat him. You can’t do an end-zone dance if you haven’t scored a touchdown. Your trash-talk license is revoked when yours is the losing side, especially if you happen to be the teammate who fumbled the ball on the goal line.
Leave aside the indignity of Hillary Clinton, a former first lady, secretary of state, and presidential candidate, appearing in a cheap throwaway gag at the Grammys during which she reads a bit from the book Fire and Fury about President Trump’s love of junk food. Leave aside the fact that her husband was also once notorious for his love of McDonald’s. Leave aside the fact that she and her husband have, like Trump, been the subject of scurrilous, vicious, largely made-up junk-journalism that doesn’t even pass the laugh test, much less a rigorous fact-checking process. She lost; she has no standing to make fun of the man who beat her.
I say this with no emotional stake in the matter, because I didn’t vote for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump: Clinton can’t dunk on Trump after the game is over and he has won. He’s the president; she’s not and she never will be. Losers don’t get to taunt winners. This isn’t a matter of sportsmanship, but a matter of dignity: A loser humiliates herself by poking fun at the guy who beat her. Half a day later, Trump, the most irritable man on earth, hadn’t deigned to respond to Clinton’s taunt. He didn’t have to. It was too pathetic to merit a response.
Clinton should take the advice of J. J. Hunsecker in Sweet Smell of Success: “You’re dead, son. Get yourself buried.” Every time she reappears on the national stage she simply reminds us all that she’s a bad politician — ungainly, unnatural, unctuous, forced — and that it is this lack of political skill that resulted in the Trump presidency. A Christmas-time poll by Gallup put Clinton’s approval rating at an abysmal 36 percent. You’d have to be emotionally invested in her to find stunts such as her Grammy appearance anything but woeful for her image.
I may have written once or twice before that awards shows and similar pageants of celebrity self-congratulation would be less boring if the entertainers put their efforts into being entertaining instead of declamatory, angry, and huffy. But like this month’s Golden Globes ceremony, which introduced various left-wing activists in an attempt to change the subject from Hollywood’s sex-abuse problem to its progressive bona fides, and like the Emmys, during which host Stephen Colbert brought on Sean Spicer for a gag that fizzled, the Grammys indicated an alarming new trend of further politicizing showbiz frippery by roping in actual political figures. The awards shows are turning into Meet the Press with sequins and cleavage.
Since the average person is tired of Hillary Clinton and wouldn’t know Sean Spicer if passing him in the street, the entertainment industry would do well to avoid designing glitzy shows around hopes of baiting Trump into sending a few tweet-bombs in response. Based on initial ratings from key markets, the ratings for last night’s extravaganza were down a massive 20 percent from last year’s politically charged festivities, to what may be an all-time low. If Hollywood’s goal is to reach Meet the Press’s ratings level, it’s on the right track.