Trump was expecting the good life, traveling the country surrounded by the flashing lights of police escorts and camera bursts, but instead the feedback from other celebrities has generally been colder than the coldest winter. Even a positive comment from Shania Twain this week was soon gone, after the singer heard ’em say just how much negative opinion there was about the president.
It must have been cause for celebration, then, when Kanye West on Wednesday tweeted his moderated support for Trump — bad news for those who saw West’s embrace of Trump in the lobby of Trump Tower shortly after the election as an aberration, not a sign that the men were real friends.
For Trump, it was something of a homecoming to a world he’d left, a possible new day in his public perception. The president was once the champion of reality television, invited to participate in the glory of lower-A- and upper-B-list appearances. Those accolades can be an addiction, and a celebrity would be forgiven if they thought to themselves, “My fans will never let me down.” But politics is heartless, and Trump’s views of who will survive in America prompted many Americans to see him as a monster.
Remember: Trump’s political support was not a runaway success. His rise in the Republican primaries was amazing, seeing Trump touch the sky shortly after pledging that immigrants who were in the country illegally would be forced out, that he’d see to it that every Luis and Jesus walks back across the border if he didn’t arrive here legally. Trump’s dark fantasy of ousting immigrants meant that he was playing a blame game more than sufficient to make many Americans paranoid. His disinterest in and denial of facts and reliance on a Pinocchio-story strategy with the press further alienated him from many Americans. But his core support didn’t fade. He has repeatedly insisted that his team get back to basics, ensuring that his base was happy with him, even if the opposition wasn’t.
West would theoretically be part of that opposition, making his tweets about Trump unusual. He is still used to hearing fans yell “I love Kanye!” He’s had a hell of a life, from the streets of Chicago to a marriage to one of the most famous women in the world. By joining the rest of the gorgeous Kardashian clan, he became part of a family business that’s the modern version of the empire that Trump inherited instead of his big brother Fred, an empire originally built on servicing gold diggers in the Canadian Yukon. The Kardashian-West version of Made in America may soon overtake Trump’s.
I wonder if his popularity will do as well with all of the lights of the national media shining on him. While the national trend away from partisanship didn’t skip California, it’s hardly the case that there are no more parties in LA, the area where West lives. His Democratic neighbors are probably so appalled by West’s outreach to Trump that he may soon find himself on the receiving end of any number of guilt trips.
More broadly, West’s acceptance of Trump may make the president stronger in a way that might make some of West’s own core supporters feel lost in the world. Celebrity, as Trump can attest, is fickle. Even Barry Bonds saw San Francisco turn against him eventually. Too often, it all falls down. Say you will stand by someone as unpopular as Trump, and the wolves come out. Welcome to the jungle.
Trump’s supporters, though, have already showered West with praise and roses. Some highlights: a lead story on Breitbart.com, retweets from prominent alt-right figures, retweets from the president’s children. West’s tweets achieved lift off on sight in the way that few other people are able to achieve. Among them, though, is Trump himself. Trump was hoping to be a West-level celebrity, but now West made waves by being a Trump-level one.
To West’s anti-Trump supporters, there’s only one message remaining: Welcome to heartbreak.