Donald Trump is demanding an apology from the cast of "Hamilton" after Vice President-elect Mike Pence attended a performance of the Broadway show Friday night — and was greeted with a chorus of boos from the audience."The Theater must always be a safe and special place," Trump tweeted Saturday morning, after videos of the jeering emerged on social media. "The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!"
The fact that Vice President-elect Mike Pence attended a performance of "Hamilton" on Broadway wouldn't have been especially notable, were it not for the hullabaloo that followed -- including some unexpectedly robust whining from Pence's running mate.During a Friday-night curtain call, Pence was headed for the exits when actor Brandon Victor Dixon, one of the show's co-stars, appealed to the far-right Republican directly. "We are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our friends, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights," Dixon said, reading off a piece of paper. "But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us."Donald Trump, who was not in attendance, was apparently outraged.
Trump also tweeted Saturday morning that Pence was "harassed" at the show -- there's no evidence of this actually happening -- before adding, "The cast and producers of Hamilton, which I hear is highly overrated, should immediately apologize to Mike Pence for their terrible behavior."Yesterday, Trump was still complaining about the Broadway show, complaining about "very inappropriate" remarks directed at the incoming vice president.Now, I could note that the theater, for centuries, has been a place for political and societal commentary. I could also note that conservatives aren't supposed to show concern for "safe spaces." We could take a moment to mention that Donald J. Trump, given his cringe-worthy record, should avoid complaining about rudeness. We might also mention that the "Hamilton" cast was actually quite polite towards Pence, making Trump's little tantrum that much more peculiar.But while all of these relevant details are worth keeping in mind, let's put all of that aside and shine a light on the overarching problem: Trump is a thin-skinned crybaby who has an alarming aversion to public dissent.Shortly after his election victory, for example, Trump said it was "very unfair" that so many Americans took to the streets to protest his coming presidency.Soon after, Trump complained about the cast of "Hamilton," from which he expects an apology for having the audacity to urge Trump's running mate to "uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us." The president-elect then directed his ire at NBC's "Saturday Night Live," complaining that the sketch-comedy show is "biased" against him. The Republican said he'd like "equal time" for his own message.No one should consider this normal behavior for a president-elect. The United States is not supposed to be a country in which a national leader incessantly whines about entertainers who, in the leader's mind, have been insufficiently deferential towards the powerful.On the contrary, such attitudes are a hallmark of authoritarian thinking: Trump is perfectly comfortable expecting pop culture to adapt to his unhealthy ego, and if it doesn't, he'll demand apologies in a way that has no precedent in the American tradition.Presidents, in both parties, have traditionally understood that artists and entertainers are going to mock, ridicule, and at times even lambaste the person in the Oval Office. Those who can't handle the derision generally have the good sense to avoid the arena. Trump, however, is taking time out of his schedule to complain -- repeatedly -- about a sketch-comedy show and a principled appeal from a Broadway musical to the incoming VP.Ultimately, my advice to Trump is simple: pace yourself. If a president-elect is already furious about mild cultural criticism two months before Inauguration Day, the poor man is going to completely unravel by the time the Fourth of July rolls around.Postscript: Pence, to his credit, didn't seem bothered by what transpired during this trip to Broadway.