Rosie O’Donnell, perhaps President Trump’s ultimate nemesis, answered the call within one minute. Twitter had decided that she should play White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon on “Saturday Night Live,” and O’Donnell understood the idea almost instantly.
After Politico reported Monday evening that the White House was rattled by Melissa McCarthy’s impression of White House press secretary Sean Spicer, Twitter lit up with casting recommendations. How best to tweak Trump’s alleged discomfort with a woman impersonating his male spokesman? Send in more women.
“Dear @nbcsnl,” tweeted Republican strategist Rick Wilson, “if you want to cause @realDonaldTrump and the entire alt-reich to stroke out, have [Leslie] Jones play Trump.” Last summer Jones, an African American cast member who specializes in loudmouthed volatility, was targeted and harassed by Twitter trolls — including white supremacists — who were ostensibly upset by the all-female “Ghostbusters” reboot.
“Ok seriously I have never seen such narcissist attitude,” Jones tweeted during Trump’s first debate with Clinton in September. “He can’t answer without praising himself first.”
O’Donnell and Trump have feuded since 2006, when the former co-host of “The View” ribbed him for his response to a situation involving an underage Miss USA winner who was caught drinking and using drugs. “He annoys me on a multitude of levels,” O’Donnell said on the air. “He’s the moral authority? Left the first wife, had an affair, left the second wife, had an affair. … Donald: Sit and spin, my friend. I don’t enjoy him.” She then mocked him for his bankruptcies and challenged the notion that he’s a self-made man.
Trump has never been able to let go of this public slight. Remember: The first shocking moment of the presidential campaign, nine years after Rosie’s remarks, involved O’Donnell. In a Republican presidential debate in August 2015, when Fox News Channel moderator Megyn Kelly quoted Trump as referring to women as “fat pigs” and “slobs,” Trump raised an index finger to interrupt and clarified: “Only Rosie O’Donnell.” The audience gasped, whooped and laughed. It was clear then that this would be no ordinary campaign.
And now we’ve come full circle. Trump is president and O’Donnell is underemployed. Last night, though, she was trending on D.C. Twitter within hours of the Politico report and is standing by to do her duty — just as Tina Fey was in 2008 when the public agreed that she should play Sarah Palin. Liberal firebrand Michael Moore has been saying for weeks that Trump’s biggest weakness is being mocked by comedy. On Tuesday morning, Moore drew a direct line from Chevy Chase’s bumbling Gerald Ford in 1975 to McCarthy’s Spicer in 2017.
TV writer Alan Sepinwall suggested that “SNL” go “full drag king on the whole administration,” that Alec Baldwin surrender the Trump character to a rotating cast of women such as Meryl Streep. (Why stop there? How about Rachel Dratch as chief of staff Reince Priebus? “SNL” hosting veteran Candice Bergen as national security adviser Michael Flynn?) Streep, who got under the president’s skin with her lacerating speech at the Golden Globes last month, has never hosted “SNL” — but she already has played Trump.
Back in June, Streep donned a fat suit, orange makeup and an absurdly long red tie at a benefit for the Public Theater in New York. She and Christine Baranski, as Hillary Clinton, sang a song from the musical “Kiss Me, Kate.”
Will SNL hear the amateur casting agents on Twitter? Maybe. It already has at least once: A Facebook campaign in 2010 catapulted Betty White, then 88, into the hosting spot — which resulted in the show’s biggest TV audience in two years.