If the presidential election came down to a contest between the candidates' celebrity backers, it'd be a blowout. Hillary Clinton campaigned with Beyonce, Jay Z, and Lebron James over the weekend -- among others -- and the Democrat will be joined by Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi tonight. A variety of other stars, including Katy Perry and Jennifer Lopez, have been active on the trail this year.Donald Trump, meanwhile, hasn't fared as well. In the run-up to the Republican National Convention, Trump envisioned an all-star lineup, featuring "A-List celebrities" and athletic "champions," each of whom apparently had other plans. RNC attendees instead heard from Scott Baio and some underwear model whose name I've forgotten. Both have modest cultural footprints.Trump, who revels in his own celebrity status, doesn't seem to be handling this well. Here's the message the Republican nominee told supporters on Saturday.
"We can get stars. We don't need them because we just want to make America great again and we know what to do, right? We don't need that."That's almost like a form of cheating, right?"
Wrong. A presidential candidate appearing alongside celebrities is in no way similar to "cheating."But that's really just the start of Trump's near-constant complaining. The GOP nominee has complained about Beyonce and Jay Z at public appearances for four straight days -- the Washington Post said the candidate and his surrogates are starting to appear "obsessed" with the couple -- whining incessantly about, among other things, Jay Z's profanity.That might be a bit more persuasive if Trump, who's delivered plenty of public remarks that need to be "bleeped," weren't campaigning alongside Ted Nugent, who's vulgarities can't be printed on a family blog like this one. (Nugent, campaigning for Trump in Michigan, grabbed his crotch during an appearance last night, equating his genitals with a "blue state" for reasons I didn't fully understand.)It reached the point over the weekend that Trump actually said Clinton's appearances with stars are "demeaning to the political process" -- which seemed like an odd thing for Donald Trump, of all people, to say.So what's this all about?I think we got a big hint this afternoon when the Republican candidate said, in reference to Beyonce and Jay Z, "I get bigger crowds than they do. I get far bigger crowds."Yep, Donald Trump is jealous. He wants to be the celebrity. He likes to be the one with the big crowds. He expects the spotlight.We are, after all, talking about a candidate who recently compared himself to a supermodel, "except like times 10. It's true. I'm a supermodel. I'm on the cover of these magazines -- I'm on the cover of the biggest magazines."And then along comes Hillary Clinton with some of the biggest cultural icons of the 21st century, at which point Trump effectively says, "Whoa, hold on a second! There's only room for one celebrity and I've decided it must be me!"Eight years ago, when then-Sen. Barack Obama was well positioned to win, John McCain used to call the Democratic candidate a "celebrity" as an insult. It was intended to downplay the power of Obama's international popularity, characterizing him as lacking in depth, substance, and maturity.Eight years later, voters are confronted with a very different kind of candidate -- one who desperately wants to be thought of as a celebrity, without regard for the consequences. It's kind of sad to watch, actually.