The writers and performers of Saturday Night Live have offered some of the most incisive and widely seen political commentary of the 2016 presidential campaign. This past weekend, some Trump observers expressed surprise when the president-elect couldn’t stop himself from tweeting his reaction to a SNL skit in which he couldn’t stop himself from tweeting. They shouldn’t have been surprised; Trump’s tweets are best understood as originating from a primitive psychic space beyond the reaches of a restraining self-consciousness.
By continuing to tweet Trump consciously lets everyone know exactly how thin-skinned he can be. Some say his tweets are strategic, aimed at keeping us from noting both his reactionary cabinet appointments and the recount movement afoot in PA, WI, and MI. To me, he confirms his severely compromised attention span, keeping alive previous questions about his ability to read or process information other than reactively. We see a conflation of the Wizard of Oz – he is the man behind the curtain scaring us while hiding how infantile he actually feels – and Shelley’s poem about the cruel king Ozymandias, which I paraphrased in June of this year. Here are the actual last lines from that poem:
“’Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
Let’s hope that President Trump won’t have to triumph over his feeling like a hurt and angry child by wreaking havoc and destruction on our own country and on the world.
There is no need, however, to look on LaVern Baker’s Mighty works and despair. Here is a link to enjoy: