What Trump Could Learn From a Trump Impersonator
Editor's Note: This is a brief "add-on" to my last piece. I'll be back with a full-length column on a different topic later in the week.
Last week, I wrote about an online video from George W. Bush that received a lot of attention — overwhelmingly the positive kind. It was the former president's address to the nation as we deal with the coronavirus crisis. As I wrote in the piece, it offered "an inspiring, compassionate, message that championed America and called on citizens to put partisanship and other differences aside, and find creative and caring ways to support each other."
I also described how President Trump and a number of his supporters took exception to Bush's gesture. The premise of their criticism was pretty ridiculous, but I think there was a broader reasoning behind it. They recognized that Bush struck a chord with people on an emotional level. He spoke with authenticity, and sounded the way many believe a president still should sound in a time of crisis. He quenched people's thirst for leadership, delivering a unifying message that Americans wanted (and perhaps even needed) to hear.
We haven't gotten such a message from President Trump, nor is there much reason to believe we will. During this crisis, he's given us some policies (including some good ones), recommendations (though often coupled with conflicting directives), sales pitches, rather strange microphone musings, and of course those obligatory sparring matches with the White House press corps. But an inspiring sense of strength, spirit, and national unity? He has yet to prove himself capable.
So when Bush momentarily filled that vacuum (and pretty much everyone recognized it), Team Trump got a little defensive and felt inclined to try and take him down a notch.
But what if they had no reason to be spiteful? What if Trump had a solid, realistic sense of America's tender psyche in the era of COVID-19? What if he not only recognized the value of an inspiring, hopeful message during a time of national suffering, but was also adept enough to deliver one? And what would it even sound like?
Oddly enough, we now have an idea... thanks to an unlikely source.
I've written about my friend John Di Domenico before. He's a professional actor/comedian out of Las Vegas who also happens to be the world's greatest Donald Trump impersonator. That's not an exaggeration. He really is the best. His Internet videos have drawn millions of views, and his Trump impersonation has landed him all kinds of professional speaking gigs, along with numerous international television appearances (including recurring visits on Conan O'Brien's show, Fox News, and The View).
John's pretty apolitical (or at least keeps his political beliefs private). He has portrayed Trump in both positive and negative light (depending on the job he's hired for), but it's almost always in the context of satirical comedy. Yet, in recent weeks, he's been receiving a very different type of request from people — a non-comedic one. According to John, fans have been urging him to "shoot a positive, uplifting, video with words of hope they wish Trump would say."
Some might find such a request strange, but like I said... Americans are looking to their leaders for hope, empathy, and solidarity right now. And they're frustrated that they aren't getting it from the nation's top leader. The demand is there, but the supply isn't.
So... John answered the call. With the help of a producer friend of his, he put together the type of message, in Trump's voice, that America could really use right now from its president. It provides a glimpse of what Trump could sound like if he were able to rise above rhetorical pettiness, and strengthen national morale.
Here it is below. Give it a look, and let me know what you think: