An "accidental" comparison on The 11th Hour with Brian Williams leaves us wondering which role fits ex-president Trump.
On Thursday night MSNBC's Brian Williams hosted author and activist Baratunde Thurston and Iraq-war-cheerleader-turned-Trump-critic Bill Kristol to discuss the Republican party's steps in reconciling with disgraced ex-president Donald Trump.
Many had pointed out that just a few short weeks after then-president Trump sent a rally of his supporters to the Capitol building and goaded them into a violent act of insurrection targeting our nations lawmakers, GOP leadership already seemed eager to welcome him back into the fold. Among the most desperate sycophants is House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who met with Donald Trump this week with a purported goal to coordinate an electoral strategy for expanding the regaining control of Congress in 2022.
In reality, of course, House Republicans have no need for Donald Trump's keen strategic mind, but they do need his supporters on their side. The backlash faced by the ten GOP lawmakers who voted for impeachment proved that — while many lawmakers saw the frightening events of January 6th as a wake-up call to the dangers of Trump's reality bending — their voters have largely continued living in their disinformation bubble.
@MSNBC / @BWilliams with exclusive video from today's McCarthy/Trump meeting. Brian Williams is on fire! 🔥 https://t.co/xzTTN9uSfw— Doremus Jessup (@Doremus Jessup) 1611896141.0
But rather than actively working to correct the willful distortions that have become the dangerous core of their party — and risk losing seats, power, and donor money in the process — Republican lawmakers have opted to reunite with the main who sent his goons after them. The once-promising prospect that Mitch McConnell would back conviction in the impeachment trial now seems comically naïve.
But none of the detailed commentary and thoughtful analysis of this worrying reversal could come close to the clip that "accidentally" played on The 11th Hour with Brian Williams. After Williams introduced what was supposed to be an exclusive video of Trump and McCarthy's meeting, viewers were instead treated to the iconic "you complete me" scene from the climax of Jerry Maguire.
In the scene, Jerry (played by Tom Cruise) has just come to his senses and flown across the country to apologize to Dorothy (Renée Zellweger) for allowing their relationship to falter. In a room full of her friends Jerry delivers an impassioned speech explaining that he needs her — that she completes him. But the theatrics unnecessary, as Dorothy famously waves them away, saying, "You had me at 'hello.'"
A STATEMENT ON THE EVENTS OF @11THHOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS: https://t.co/H11y1m6y59— Baratunde (@Baratunde) 1611936579.0
The apt comparison of this reconciliation the roller-coaster love story of a romantic comedy — along with Brian Williams deadpan insistence that they had simply "rolled the wrong clip" — delighted viewers, and the moment quickly went viral as a trending topic on Twitter. But we still want to know who's who. Is Donald Trump supposed to be Tom Cruise or Renée Zellweger?
The Case for Trump as Tom Cruise
In Jerry Maguire it's clear that the couple's split was Jerry's fault. He allowed himself to get so caught up in his ego and chasing his goals that he forgot whose loyalty and support had gotten him to where he was. He abandoned Dorothy, just like Donald Trump abandoned GOP lawmakers to the violent will of his followers in his effort to steal the election from Joe Biden.
While Jerry's passion and unconventional methods within his field turn some people off, they are what drew Dorothy to him...in the same way Kevin McCarthy and others of his ilk were drawn to Donald Trump's zealous use of fascist political strategies to rile up the base.
In addition, Tom Cruise is famous for his athleticism, his great hair, and his reckless disregard for his own safety. Donald Trump's hair, physique, and general recklessness are also famous. Oh, and they're both basically cult leaders...
Like two peas in a pod
The Case for Trump as Renée Zellweger
The idea of Donald Trump delivering an impassioned apology is like a Zen koan. The longer you allow your thoughts linger on such a fundamental contradiction, the more your sense of reality will unravel.
He will never acknowledge fault or the idea that he is less than wholly perfect on his own. If Brian Williams had truly had an exclusive clip of the meeting, it likely would have shown a lot more obsequious groveling from Kevin McCarthy.
Still, on some level Donald Trump must know that he needs the help of his GOP allies in order to remain relevant now that he's out of office. So he was bound to accept whatever apology McCarthy offered — just as Zellweger's character only needed to hear "hello" to be won over.
So — at least in this context — we can say definitively that Donald Trump is Renée Zellweger.