No one in American politics understands the dark art of ridicule better than Donald Trump. (“Welcome to the race, Sleepy Joe.”) And when it comes to seeing himself on the receiving end, nobody in American politics has a thinner skin. His fury at President Barack Obama’s roasting of him at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner may have motivated his own run for the presidency. More recently, his sensitivity to ridicule has been on sharp display in his seething reaction to Alec Baldwin’s running impression over the past three years on “Saturday Night Live.”
Baldwin has carved out a late-career niche as the nation’s highest-profile interpreter of Trump. For most viewers, his performance, all preening and bluster, has settled into comedy-staple territory. And for most presidents, rolling with SNL’s punches is just another part of the job. Neither is true for this particular viewer-in-chief. The performance gets further under Trump’s skin with each passing season.