Actor John Lithgow wrote an op-ed that appeared in Thursday's New York Times that comes off more like a therapy session of a very angry patient giving vent to his extreme Trump Derangement Syndrome.
The surprising thing is that the Times editors seemed to have done nothing to tone down Lithgow's embarrassing rants. The result is the reader is put in the position of a therapist listening to the ranting of an Anger Management patient. His apparent expertise, according to the Times, is as author of the forthcoming poetry book Dumpty: The Age of Trump in Verse.
Lithgow's overflowing contempt is made known right away in the title, "John Lithgow: Trump Is a Bad President. He’s an Even Worse Entertainer." He then goes on to tell us that he thinks Donald Trump is not only a horrible president but he is also a lousy entertainer, he's not funny, he has no sense of irony, he is not self-aware, he can't tell a joke. Unlike the master thespians like Lithgow, he's so artless!
I call Donald Trump an “entertainer president” advisedly since he has proved himself to be such an inept public servant. Over the years, he has thrust himself into the public eye with the flamboyant histrionics of a latter-day P.T. Barnum. Part of this is the amoral tradecraft of a New York real estate developer, but a lot of it springs from the appetites of a voracious attention-getter.
...As bad a president as Mr. Trump has been, he’s an even worse entertainer. He reads scripted lines like a panic-stricken schoolboy at a middle school assembly. He mangles every attempt at irony, self-mockery or, God forbid, an actual joke. He cravenly fills the hall for every rally with a hopped-up claque drawn from his hard-core base.
The entertainment elites are so enthralled with Lithgow that he doesn't hate to resemble the characters he is playing in the slightest physical way. He's gone from bizarrely playing Bill Clinton on Broadway to being cast as Roger Ailes in the latest Fox News-trashing movie. But there's a bright side, says Lithgow: Trump has brought out the best in our journalists!
It is dispiriting to watch the wretched excesses of Mr. Trump’s slapstick presidency and the rabid audience he commands. But there may be an upside to his crude performance art. His relentless lies, impulsive acts and gassy pronouncements have emboldened American journalists and quickened their senses.
He has done the same for the late-night leftist "warrior satirists" who claim to be comedians. Agree with Lithgow, and you are oh so art-ful:
And just as heartening, the Trump phenomenon has sharpened the wits of a whole new breed of entertainers. These are the daring TV comics who gleefully turn Mr. Trump’s outrages against him every night of the week: Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Seth Meyers and others. As entertainers, they are everything Mr. Trump is not.
They’re smart, informed, disciplined, self-aware and genuinely funny. Not a single item in the day’s news goes unexamined by these warrior satirists, and unlike the late-night comfort food of days past, their comedy is heightened by the bright fire of their anger.
In Lithgow's fervid imagination, journalists and comedians will combine to end the "Trump nightmare" and restore the rule of the Smart People.
Soon, with any luck, journalism and entertainment will act in concert with an energized voting public to bring an end to the Trump nightmare. If not, we’ll have to wait a little longer for quality drama and accommodate ourselves to a continuing diet of B-movie horror.
The best entertainment could be provided by John Lithgow himself on the night of November 3, 2020 if he allows himself to be live-streamed on the Web.
Therapy session is over.