Donald Trump’s first feud as president-elect is not with a domestic political foe, nor an adversarial international leader. He’s not sparring with the KKK and asking them to stop celebrating his election, nor is he campaigning against the harassment or violence being carried out on women, people of color, Muslims and Jews in his name.
This booing, according to the least polite man in America, is unacceptable. In fact, there seems to be a bit of a collective amnesia among certain members of the press, the pundit class, and the conservative movement this Saturday morning, who see booing as wildly disrespectful behavior that warrants broad condemnation and demands an apology, despite the fact that the president-elect’s entire political career has been one long, whining boo at the political establishment and the majority of the country who voted for his Democratic opponent.
To refresh your memory, Trump, who will be sworn in as President of the United States in January, has loudly and rudely picked fights with, in no particular order: babies, prisoners of war, a Gold Star family, a Miss Universe, Muslims, Mexico, the Pope, Rosie O’Donnell, Cher, Graydon Carter, the current sitting President, and so on.
And Trump does not apologize. The only time he’s ever said “sorry” was when the public learned he had boasted about being able to “grab” women “by the pussy” and get away with it, and even then his “sorry” was cloaked in caveats and he pointed the blame elsewhere.
But early this morning, after firing off a few tweets about his recently settled Trump University lawsuit, Trump had a fit about the boos.
“Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton, cameras blazing. This should not happen!” He tweeted.
He added, “The Theater must always be a safe and special place. The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very god man, Mike Pence. Apologize!”
This, like the vast majority of tweets by the president-elect, is not true. The crowd booed Pence last night, but the cast delivered him a respectful and eloquent plea for civility.
After the show, Brandon Dixon, who stars as Aaron Burr, came out onstage to speak. “You know we had a guest in the audience this evening,” Dixon said, “and vice-president-elect Pence, I see you’re walking out, but I hope you will hear us just a few more moments.”
He then turned to the audience. “There’s nothing to boo here, ladies and gentlemen, there’s nothing to boo here. We’re all here sharing a story of love. We have a message for you, sir, and we hope that you will hear us out, and I encourage everybody to pull out your phones and Tweet and post, because this message needs to be spread far and wide.”
He looked back in Pence’s direction. “Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you and we truly thank you for joining us here at Hamilton: An America Musical, we really do. We sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us—our planet, our children, our parents—or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us—all of us. We truly thank you for sharing this show, this American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds and orientations.”
In response to Trump’s incorrect interpretation of events, Dixon tweeted, correctly, “conversation is not harassment sir. And I appreciate @mike_pence for stopping to listen.”
It’s tempting to laugh off Trump demanding that the cast of a broadway show apologize as just another silly spat in his colorful history of them. But as president-elect, the stakes are now higher, and demands that anyone apologize for exercising their freedom of speech smack of autocracy. Never mind the concern that he’s spending precious time fighting with actors when he ought to be, oh I dunno, staffing his administration or reading up on what exactly it is that presidents do.