Alec Baldwin/ Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
By David R. Wheeler, Editor
Donald Trump may have won the electoral college, but he lost the popular vote by a couple million ballots. Loser! Hillary Clinton may have won the population vote, but she lost the electoral college. Another loser! Also, both candidates made history for their low likability. What a couple of losers!
But there’s one person who comes out smelling like a rose, like the essential oils of geranium foliage, and that’s none other than Alec Baldwin. You know Alec, the guy who first captured your imagination in 1988’s Beetlejuice, then got an Oscar nomination in 2003 for a film you never saw (The Cooler), then captured your imagination again in 2006 as the solipsistic, career-obsessed Jack Donaghy in 30 Rock.
As with all good actors, Baldwin portrays Jack Donaghy in a way that makes you believe there really is such a person as Jack Donaghy, the quintessential heartless capitalist, and you feel like you’re spying on him with a hidden camera and eavesdropping on his conversations. Just as Gore Vidal liked to play roles embodying his political opposite, Baldwin morphs into the conservative Jack Donaghy effortlessly, reciting convincing lines such as “I do admire Wonka. He is a true capitalist. His factory has zero government regulation, slave labor, and an indoor boat. Wonderful.”
And another unforgettable one: “Lemon, what happened in your childhood to make you believe people are good?”
In real life, Baldwin is famously liberal. In 2012, as the nation decided whether to re-elect Obama, he took to Twitter to denounce Romney: “You wanna go back to lying thieves in the White House who make war under false pretenses in order to make $ for their friends?”
But that was fairly tame compared to what happened back in 1998, when he went on an ill-advised rant on Conan O’Brien, saying that he wanted to “stone to death” Henry Hyde, the Republican congressman who led impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton.
But hey, we all get carried away sometimes. Baldwin is more measured now in his public statements, and his portrayal of Trump is one of the most convincing roles of his highly acclaimed career.
The hair. The voice. The pursing of the lips. Nobody can do Trump quite like Baldwin.
Best of all? Baldwin is so good at parodying Trump that the thin-skinned president-elect can’t help but fight back, calling SNL “a totally one-sided, biased show. Nothing funny at all.”
Baldwin shot back: “You know what I would do if I were Prez? I’d be focused on how to improve the lives of AS MANY AMERICANS AS POSSIBLE.”
Then: “I’d be focused on improving our reputation abroad, including actually fighting for freedom and not just oil.”
Also: “I would make appointments that encouraged people, not generate fear and doubt.”
And finally: “I could go on. You want more advice, call me. I’ll be at SNL.”
That’s all I needed to hear, Alec! In times of confusion, fear, and uncertainty, we need an outlet. We need catharsis. We need to laugh in order not to cry. Charlie Chaplin accomplished these things with The Great Dictator during the Second World War. The Vietnam era had MASH.
It’s going to be a long four years. Alec, we’re going to need you. If not every Saturday night, then most Saturday nights. Please. Our sanity depends on it.
David R. Wheeler is the editor of AliveTampaBay. He’s also a journalism professor at The University of Tampa and a freelance writer for outlets such as CNN, The Atlantic, and The New York Times.