Trump's SNL promo: "Ben Carson is a complete and total loser"

To cleanse the palate, via Variety, here’s why I think his SNL appearance will be pure win for him. It’s not the quality of the gags (it’s SNL), it’s the charm of Trump gamely goofing on his own image. In theory, an ego as yuge as his shouldn’t be comfortable with jokes at his expense; you’d expect him to react to skits about him on earlier shows by calling Lorne Michaels a no-talent has-been or whatever. Instead he plays along. I take it that’s because being parodied is in its own way enormously gratifying to the ego. If you’re big enough to be the target of a late-night joke, you’re pretty big. If you’re big enough to be the target of a late-night joke while hosting the show, you’re really big.

The counter-theory is that this is going to blow up in his face by showing people that he’s more of a comedian than a serious candidate. Is that right? Trump’s supporters, who are probably the most passionate in the GOP, stuck with him through endless stories about the many liberal positions he used to hold but now they’re going to cut bait because he’s letting SNL goof on his hair? Trump’s big personality problem in the campaign, I think, isn’t that many people see him as an entertainer, it’s that they see him as boorish and too quick to insult the competition. He comes off as a bully at times, especially when he’s swinging at someone as mild-mannered as Carson. So here he is trying to soften that image by taking some shots at his own persona. A bully who can laugh at himself isn’t much of a bully. That’s why, I think, Latino groups are unusually exercised about this appearance. They want people to see Trump as a menacing racial demagogue. This little benediction from SNL, that the guy’s sufficiently mainstream to host their not-very-conservative show, makes that harder.

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