US President-elect Donald Trump speaks in front of decorated Christmas trees at a Thank You Tour rally at the Wisconsin State Fair Exposition in West Allis, Wisconsin on December 13, 2016.
EPA/TANNEN MAURY

Despite his celebrity status, Trump struggles with celebrities

It's an exceedingly awkward dynamic. On the one hand, Americans elected the celebrity host of a reality show to be the leader of the free world. On the other hand, actual celebrities, with meaningful cultural footprints, generally want nothing to do with Donald Trump.

The result is a deeply insecure president-elect, desperate for the approval of the artistic elite, who wants a star-studded inauguration, only to find celebrities aren't interested in tarnishing their reputations by associating themselves with Trump. As Politico noted, he's not taking it well.

President-elect Donald Trump claims he doesn't want celebrities at his inauguration, tweeting Thursday night that he wants "the people" to attend the event instead.

"The so-called 'A' list celebrities are all wanting tixs to the inauguration, but look what they did for Hillary, NOTHING. I want the PEOPLE!" he tweeted.

His tweet appears to be a defense against claims that the president-elect can't book notable talent for his inauguration in January. In November, Elton John's publicist said that the singer won't perform after a Trump adviser said he would. And earlier this week, tenor Andrea Bocelli, who was reported to be in the inauguration line-up, stated he won't be performing at the event.

Apparently, the Radio City Rockettes are scheduled to be part of the festivities, though some of the performers have said they might quit rather than appear at Trump's inauguration.

It's part of a striking pattern that's been surprisingly consistent for months. Ahead of the Republican National Convention, for example, Trump envisioned an all-star lineup, featuring "A-List celebrities" and athletic "champions." But when it was time for the event itself, notable figures turned down invitations -- and Trump was stuck with Scott Baio and some underwear model.

By the fall, Trump made no real effort to hide his preoccupation with celebrities who seemed eager to support his opponent. Three days before Election Day, Trump declared, "We can get stars. We don't need them.... That's almost like a form of cheating, right?"

A day earlier, Trump, without a hint of irony, said Hillary Clinton's appearances with popular culture figures was "demeaning to the political process." The Republican also spent several days leading up to Election Day whining incessantly about Jay-Z and Beyonce for reasons Trump never actually explained.

Obviously, tens of millions of Americans didn't mind Trump's bizarre celebrity focus -- he won the election, after all -- but even as he prepares to take office, the president-elect continues to obsess over celebrities who prefer to keep him at arm's length.

Trump, who likes to compare himself to a supermodel, can't stop pouting about it. The spectacle is quite sad to watch.

Postscript: As part of his post-hoc defense, Trump wants us to believe several prominent celebrities want tickets to his presidential inauguration, but he doesn't want to do them any favors. Here's a challenge for the president-elect: name one.